Two new minerals, badengzhuite, TiP, and zhiqinite, TiSi 2, from the Cr-11 chromitite orebody, Luobusa ophiolite, Tibet, China: is this evidence for super-reduced mantle-derived fluids?

Xiong, Fahui; Xu, Xiangzhen; Mugnaioli, Enrico; Gemmi, Mauro; Wirth, Richard; Grew, Edward S.; Robinson, Paul T.; Yang, Jingsui

Titanium minerals enclosed in corundum separated from the Cr-11 orebody include native Ti, zamboite (FeTiSiinline-formula2), osbornite (TiN)-khamrabaevite (TiC) solid solutions, and jingsuiite (TiBinline-formula2), as well as the new minerals badengzhuite (TiP) and zhiqinite (TiSiinline-formula2) and two potentially new minerals, Tiinline-formula11(Si,Pinline-formula)10 and Tiinline-formula10(Si,P,inline-formula)7, where inline-formula indicates a vacancy. These minerals together constitute a spheroid 20 inline-formulaµm across inferred to have crystallized from a droplet of Ti–Si–P intermetallic melt. Energy-dispersive spectroscopy and three-dimensional electron diffraction were applied to characterize the two new minerals. Badengzhuite has a primitive hexagonal cell with inline-formulaa=3.49(7)  Å, inline-formulac=11.70(23) Å, inline-formulaV=124(4) Åinline-formula3, and crystallizes in space group inline-formulaP6inline-formula3mmc (inline-formulaZ=4). It is isostructural with synthetic TiP. Two EDX (energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) analyses of badengzhuite gave 60.56 wt %Ti and 39.44 wt % P and 62.74 wt % Ti and 37.26 wt % P from which an empirical formula of Tiinline-formula1.020Pinline-formula0.980 was calculated on the basis of two atoms (ideally TiP). Zhiqinite has a primitive orthorhombic cell with inline-formulaa=8.18(16) Å, inline-formulab=4.85(10) Å, inline-formulac=8.42(17) Å, inline-formulaV=334(12) Åinline-formula3, and crystallizes in space group Fddd (inline-formulaZ=8). It is isostructural with synthetic TiSiinline-formula2 (C54 type). Four EDX analyses of zhiqinite gave 39.58–44.79 wt % Ti and 55.21–60.42 wt % Si, from which an empirical formula of Tiinline-formula0.905Siinline-formula2.095 was calculated on the basis of three atoms (ideally TiSiinline-formula2). We suggest that interaction of mantle-derived CHinline-formula4inline-formula+ Hinline-formula2 fluids with basaltic magmas in the shallow lithosphere (depths of inline-formula∼ 30–100 km) under conditions more reducing than 6 log units below the oxygen fugacities corresponding to the iron–wüstite buffer resulted in precipitation of corundum that entrapped intermetallic melts, some of which crystallized to ultra-reduced Ti–P–Si phases. Experimental work on the Ti–Si and Ti–P systems indicates that the minerals enclosed in corundum could have crystallized from the alloy melt at the lowest temperature accessible on the liquidus. It has been alleged that these ultra-reduced phases are anthropogenic contaminants inadvertently introduced with fused alumina abrasive during preparation of mineral separates. Nonetheless, we conclude that the differences between the ultra-reduced minerals in the separates and the ultra-reduced phases in fused alumina are more convincing evidence for these minerals having a natural origin than the similarities between them are evidence for an anthropogenic origin.

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Xiong, Fahui / Xu, Xiangzhen / Mugnaioli, Enrico / et al: Two new minerals, badengzhuite, TiP, and zhiqinite, TiSi2, from the Cr-11 chromitite orebody, Luobusa ophiolite, Tibet, China: is this evidence for super-reduced mantle-derived fluids?. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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