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American Mineralogist

Journal of Earth and Planetary Materials

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

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Volume 101, Issue 6


An X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) study of Fe ordering in a synthetic MgAl2O4-Fe3O4 (spinel-magnetite) solid-solution series: Implications for magnetic properties and cation site ordering

C. Michael B. Henderson
  • Corresponding author
  • Williamson Research Centre, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, U.K
  • Astec, Daresbury Laboratory, STFC, Warrington WA4 4AD, U.K
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
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/ Carolyn I. Pearce
  • Williamson Research Centre, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, U.K
  • School of Chemistry and Dalton Nuclear Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, U.K
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington 99352, U.S.A
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/ John M. Charnock
  • Williamson Research Centre, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, U.K
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/ Richard J. Harrison / Kevin M. Rosso
  • Williamson Research Centre, School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, U.K
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington 99352, U.S.A
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2016-06-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2016-5612


Fe L2,3-edge XAS and XMCD studies have been used to unravel structural trends in the MgAl2O4–Fe3O4 solid solution where thermodynamic modeling has presented a challenge due to the complex ordering arrangements of the end-members. Partitioning of Fe3+ and Fe2+ between tetrahedral (Td) and octahedral (Oh) sites has been established. In the most Fe-rich samples, despite rapid quenching from a disordered state, FeTd2+ is not present, which matches the ordered, inverse spinel nature of end-member magnetite (Mgt) at room temperature. However, in intermediate compositions Al and Mg substantially replace Fe and small amounts of FeTd2+ are found, stabilized, or trapped by decreasing occurrence of the continuous nearest neighbor Fe–Fe interactions that facilitate charge redistribution by electron transfer. Furthermore, in the composition range ~Mgt0.4–0.9, XAS and XMCD bonding and site occupancy data suggest that nanoscale, magnetite-like Fe clusters are present. By contrast, at the spinel-rich end of the series, Mgt0.17 and Mgt0.23 have a homogeneous long-range distribution of Fe, Mg, and Al. These relationships are consistent with the intermediate and Fe-rich samples falling within a wide solvus in this system such that the Fe-clusters occur as proto-nuclei for phases that would exsolve following development of long-range crystalline order during slow cooling.

Unit-cell edges calculated from the spectroscopy-derived site occupancies show excellent agreement with those measured by X-ray powder diffraction on the bulk samples. Calculated saturation magnetic moments (Ms) for the Fe-rich samples also show excellent agreement with measured values but for the most Mg-rich samples are displaced to slightly higher values; this displacement is due to the presence of abundant Mg and Al disrupting the anti-parallel alignment of electron spins for Fe atoms.

Key words: MgAl2O4-Fe3O4 spinel solid solutions; Fe L2,3 X-ray absorption spectroscopy; Fe L2,3 X-ray magnetic circular dichroism; Mg and Fe K-edge extended X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy; octahedral and tetrahedral site occupancies; calculated unit-cell parameters; calculated magnetic moments; spinel-magnetite solvus; hypothetical high-temperature ordering model

Special collection papers can be found online at http://www.minsocam.org/MSA/AmMin/special-collections.html.

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About the article

Received: 2015-10-06

Accepted: 2016-02-16

Published Online: 2016-06-03

Published in Print: 2016-06-01

Citation Information: American Mineralogist, Volume 101, Issue 6, Pages 1373–1388, ISSN (Online) 1945-3027, ISSN (Print) 0003-004X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2016-5612.

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