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American Mineralogist

Journal of Earth and Planetary Materials

Ed. by Baker, Don / Xu, Hongwu / Swainson, Ian

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 2.631

CiteScore 2018: 2.55

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.355
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.103

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Volume 98, Issue 10


Crystal structure and hydration/dehydration behavior of Na2Mg(SO4)2·16H2O: A new hydrate phase observed under Mars-relevant conditions

Kristin Leftwich / David L. Bish / C.H. Chen
  • Indiana University Molecular Structure Center, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, U.S.A.
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Published Online: 2015-03-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am.2013.4509


Hydrated evaporite minerals have the ability to hold large amounts of H2O, making them a potential source of H2O in cold, low-PH2O environments such as the surface of Mars. Many of these hydrated evaporite minerals experience a reversible change in hydration state in response to changes in temperature (T) and relative humidity (RH). Such phases may thus have the potential to interact with the martian atmosphere on a daily or seasonal basis. The Na2Mg(SO4)2·nH2O system was previously thought to contain three hydrated phases: a decahydrate (n = 10), konyaite (n = 5), and blödite (n = 4). We examined this system using temperature- and RH-controlled X‑ray powder diffraction (XRD) methods, as well as temperature-controlled single-crystal X‑ray diffraction. When blödite was exposed to sub-freezing conditions, T ≤ -10 °C, a new phase was produced (n = 16, 52 wt%H2O). Similar low-temperature behavior has been documented in the MgSO4·nH2O system, through the presence of meridianiite (Peterson et al. 2007). The hydration and dehydration behavior of phases in the Na2Mg(SO4)2·nH2O system was evaluated with powder XRD from -30 to >25 °C and from ∼99 to near 0% RH, and single-crystal XRD data were collected for the n = 16 phase at -120 °C. The 16-hydrate is triclinic, space group P1̄, with unit-cell parameters a = 6.5590(12), b = 6.6277(14), c = 14.441(3) Å, α = 87.456(15)°, β = 79.682(15)°, γ = 65.847(13)°, and a unit-cell volume of 563.3(2) Å3. The existence of this new phase at low temperatures, its high hydration state, and its ability to form reversibly from blödite all suggest that if phases in this system exist on the martian surface, they will participate in the Mars H2O cycle.

Keywords : Mars; sulfate; blödite; konyaite; efflorescence; meridianiite

About the article

Received: 2013-02-16

Accepted: 2013-05-16

Published Online: 2015-03-07

Published in Print: 2013-10-01

Citation Information: American Mineralogist, Volume 98, Issue 10, Pages 1772–1778, ISSN (Online) 1945-3027, ISSN (Print) 0003-004X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am.2013.4509.

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© 2015 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston.

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