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Type: Journal article
Title: Copper-arsenic Nanoparticles in hematite: fingerprinting fluid-mineral interaction
Author: Verdugo Ihl, M.
Ciobanu, C.L.
Slattery, A.
Cook, N.J.
Ehrig, K.
Courtney-Davies, L.
Citation: Minerals, 2019; 9(7):1-21
Publisher: MDPI AG
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 2075-163X
Statement of
Max R. Verdugo-Ihl, Cristiana L. Ciobanu, Ashley Slattery, Nigel J. Cook, Kathy Ehrig and Liam Courtney-Davies
Abstract: Metal nanoparticles (NP) in minerals are an emerging field of research. Development of advanced analytical techniques such as Z-contrast imaging and mapping using high-angle annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF STEM) allows unparalleled insights at the nanoscale. Moreover, the technique provides a link between micron-scale textures and chemical patterns if the sample is extracted in situ from a location of petrogenetic interest. Here we use HAADF STEM imaging and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX) mapping/spot analysis on focused ion beam prepared foils to characterise atypical Cu-As-zoned and weave-twinned hematite from the Olympic Dam deposit, South Australia. We aim to determine the role of solid-solution versus the presence of discrete included NPs in the observed zoning and to understand Cu-As-enrichment processes. Relative to the grain surface, the Cu-As bands extend in depth as (sub)vertical trails of opposite orientation, with Si-bearing hematite NP inclusions on one side and coarser cavities (up to hundreds of nm) on the other. The latter host Cu and Cu-As NPs, contain mappable K, Cl, and C, and display internal voids with rounded morphologies. Aside from STEM-EDX mapping, the agglomeration of native copper NPs was also assessed by high-resolution imaging. Collectively, such characteristics, corroborated with the geometrical outlines and negative crystal shapes of the cavities, infer that these are opened fluid inclusions with NPs attached to inclusion walls. Hematite along the trails features distinct nanoscale domains with lattice defects (twins, 2-fold superstructuring) relative to hematite outside the trails, indicating this is a nanoprecipitate formed during replacement processes, i.e., coupled dissolution and reprecipitation reactions (CDRR). Transient porosity intrinsically developed during CDRR can trap fluids and metals. Needle-shaped and platelet Cu-As NPs are also observed along (sub)horizontal bands along which Si, Al and K is traceable along the margins. The same signature is depicted along nm-wide planes crosscutting at 60° and offsetting (012)-twins in weave-twinned hematite. High-resolution imaging shows linear and planar defects, kink deformation along the twin planes, misorientation and lattice dilation around duplexes of Si-Al-K-planes. Such defects are evidence of strain, induced during fluid percolation along channels that become wider and host sericite platelets, as well as Cl-K-bearing inclusions, comparable with those from the Cu-As-zoned hematite, although without metal NPs. The Cu-As-bands mapped in hematite correspond to discrete NPs formed during interaction with fluids that changed in composition from alkali-silicic to Cl- and metal-bearing brines, and to fluid rates that evolved from slow infiltration to erratic inflow controlled by fault-valve mechanism pumping. This explains the presence of Cu-As NPs hosted either along Si-Al-K-planes (fluid supersaturation), or in fluid inclusions (phase separation during depressurisation) as well as the common signatures observed in hematite with variable degrees of fluid-mineral interaction. The invoked fluids are typical of hydrolytic alteration and the fluid pumping mechanism is feasible via fault (re)activation. Using a nanoscale approach, we show that fluid-mineral interaction can be fingerprinted at the (atomic) scale at which element exchange occurs.
Keywords: HAADF-STEM; hematite; Cu-(As) nanoparticles; fluid-mineral interaction; fluid-inclusions
Rights: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
RMID: 0030133565
DOI: 10.3390/min9070388
Appears in Collections:Chemical Engineering publications

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