Ice nucleation properties of K-feldspar polymorphs and plagioclase feldspars

Welti, André; Lohmann, Ulrike; Kanji, Zamin A.

The relation between the mineralogical characteristics of size-selected feldspar particles from 50 to 800 nm and their ability to act as ice-nucleating particles (INPs) in the immersion mode is presented. Five polymorph members of K-feldspar (two microclines, orthoclase, adularia and sanidine) and four plagioclase samples (three labradorites and a pericline sample) are tested. Microcline was found to be the most active INP in the immersion mode consistent with previous findings. Samples were selected for their differences in typical feldspar properties such as crystal structure, bulk and trace elemental composition, and ordering of the crystal lattice. The properties mentioned are related to the temperature of feldspar crystallization from the magma during formation. Properties characteristic of low-temperature feldspar formation coincide with an increased ability to nucleate ice. Amongst the samples investigated, ice nucleation is most efficient on the crystallographically ordered, triclinic K-feldspar species microcline, while the intermediate and disordered monoclinic K-feldspar polymorphs orthoclase and sanidine nucleate ice at lower temperatures. The ice nucleation ability of disordered triclinic Na∕Ca-feldspar is comparable to disordered K-feldspar. The conditions of feldspar rock formation also leave a chemical fingerprint with varying abundance of trace elements in the samples. X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy analysis was conducted to determine metal oxide and trace elemental composition of the feldspar samples. The analysis revealed a correlation of trace metal abundance with median freezing temperatures (T50) of the K-feldspar samples allowing us to sort them for their ice nucleation efficiency according to the abundance of specific trace elements. A pronounced size dependence of ice nucleation activity for the feldspar samples is observed, with the activity of smaller-sized particles scaling with surface area or being even higher compared to larger particles. The size dependence varies for different feldspar samples. In particular, microcline exhibited immersion freezing even for 50 nm particles which is unique for heterogeneous ice nucleation of mineral dusts. This suggests that small microcline particles that are susceptible to long-range transport can affect cloud properties via immersion freezing far away from the source. The measurements generally imply that temperatures at which feldspars can affect cloud glaciation depend on the transported particle size in addition to the abundance of these particles.

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Welti, André / Lohmann, Ulrike / Kanji, Zamin A.: Ice nucleation properties of K-feldspar polymorphs and plagioclase feldspars. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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