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Type: Journal article
Title: Nanoscale study of titanomagnetite from the Panzhihua Layered Intrusion, southwest China: multistage exsolutions record ore formation
Author: Gao, W.
Ciobanu, C.L.
Cook, N.J.
Slattery, A.
Huang, F.
Song, D.
Citation: Minerals Engineering, 2019; 9(9):513-1-513-26
Publisher: MDPI
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 0892-6875
Statement of
Wenyuan Gao, Cristiana L. Ciobanu, Nigel J. Cook, Ashley Slattery, Fei Huang and Dan Song
Abstract: Titanomagnetite from Fe-Ti-V ores of the Lanjiahuoshan deposit, Panzhihua layered intrusion, Southwest China, was investigated at the nanoscale. The objectives were to establish the composition of exsolution phases and their mutual relationships in order to evaluate the sequence of exsolution among oxide phases, and assess mechanisms of ore formation during magma emplacement. At the micron-scale, titanomagnetite shows crosscutting sets of exsolutions with ilmenite and Al-Mg-Fe-spinel (pleonaste), as well as overprint, both in terms of phase re-equilibration and remobilization of trace elements. Most complex textures were found in titanomagnetite surrounded by ilmenite and this was selected for high-angle annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF STEM) imaging and STEM energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS) spot analysis and mapping on a thin foil prepared in situ on a focused ion beam scanning electron microscope platform. Titanomagnetite revealed two sequential sets of exsolutions, {111} crosscutting {100}, which are associated with changes in phase speciation and trace element distribution patterns. Qandilite is the dominant spinel phase inside titanomagnetite; magnesioferrite is also identified. In contrast, Fe-poor, Al-rich, Mg-bearing spinel is present within ilmenite outside the grain. Vanadium enrichment in newly-formed magnetite lamellae is clear evidence for trace element remobilization. This V-rich magnetite shows epitaxial relationships with ilmenite at the contact with titanomagnetite. Two-fold super-structuring in ilmenite is evidence for non-redox re-equilibration between titanomagnetite and ilmenite, supporting published experimental data. In contrast, the transformation of cubic Ti-rich spinel into rhombohedral ilmenite imaged at the nanoscale represents the “oxy-exsolution” model of titanomagnetite–ilmenite re-equilibration via formation of a transient ulvöspinel species. Nanoscale disorder is encountered as vacancy layers in Ti-rich spinel, and lower symmetry in the Fe-poor, Al-Mg phase, suggesting that slow cooling rates can preserve small-scale phase equilibration. The cooling history of titanomagnetite ore can be reconstructed as three distinct stages, concordant with published models for the magma plumbing system: equilibrium crystallization of Al-rich, Mg-bearing titanomagnetite from cumulus melts at ~55 km, with initial exsolutions occurring above 800 °C at moderate fO2 conditions (Stage 1); crosscutting {111} exsolutions resulting in formation of qandilite, attributable to temperature increase due to emplacement of another batch of melt affecting the interstitial cumulus during uplift. Formation of 2-fold superstructure ilmenite + V-rich magnetite exsolution pairs representing non-redox equilibration indicates resetting of the cooling path at this stage (Stage 2); and ilmenite formation from pre-existing Ti-rich spinel and ulvöspinel, illustrative of redox-driven cooling paths at <10 km (Stage 3). HAADF STEM provides direct imaging of atomic arrangements, allowing recognition of processes not recognizable at the micron-scale, and can thus be used to constrain exsolution models during ore formation.
Keywords: Titanomagnetite; HAADF STEM; exsolution sequences; Panzhihua; layered intrusion
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 (
DOI: 10.3390/min9090513
Grant ID: ARC
Published version:
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