Processes of metastable-mineral formation in oxidation zones and mine waste

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Marco E. Ciriotti
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Processes of metastable-mineral formation in oxidation zones and mine waste

Messaggio da Marco E. Ciriotti » mer 18 mar, 2020 10:28

Prossima pubblicazione.

▪ Majzlan, J. (2020): Processes of metastable-mineral formation in oxidation zones and mine waste. Mineralogical Magazine, 84, (in press).

Oxidation zones and mine wastes are metal-rich, near-surface environments, natural and man-made critical zones of ore deposits, respectively. They contain a number of minerals which, despite of their metastability, occur consistently and in abundance. Field studies, presented as examples in this work, show that metastable minerals form not only directly from aqueous solutions, but also from more complex precursors, such as nanoparticles, gels, X-ray amorphous solids, or clusters. Initial precipitation of metastable phases and their conversion to the stable ones is described by the Ostwald’s step rule. Thermodynamic data show that there is a tendency, but no rule, that structurally more complex phases are also thermodynamically more stable. The Ostwald’s step rule could then state that the initial metastable phases are structurally simple and easily assembled from aqueous solutions, nanoparticles, gels, disordered solids, or clusters. The structural similarity of the precursor and the forming phase is a kinetic factor favoring the crystallization of the new phase. Calculation of saturation indices for mine drainage solutions show that they are mostly supersaturated with respect to the stable phases and the aqueous concentrations are sufficient to precipitate metastable minerals. In our field work, we encounter often gelatinous substances with copper, manganese or tungsten that slowly convert to metastable oxysalt minerals. Another possibility is the crystallization of various metastable minerals from solid, homogeneous ‘resins’ that are X-ray amorphous. Minerals typical for near-surface environments may be stabilized by their surface energy at high specific surface areas. For example, ferrihydrite is often described as a metastable phase but can be shown to be stable with respect to nanosized hematite.
Marco E. Ciriotti

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