Physics and Chemistry of Minerals

, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 401–408 | Cite as

How Cr3+ and Fe3+ affect Mg–Al order–disorder transformation at high temperature in natural spinels

  • F. Martignago
  • A. Dal Negro
  • S. Carbonin


Three natural Mg(Al2-yCry)O4 spinels (y ∼0.07–0.16), highly ordered in terms of Mg–Al, and one Mg(Al2−yFe3+y)O4 spinel (y∼0.08), highly ordered also in terms of Fe3+, were studied by means of X-ray single-crystal diffraction. All samples were heated in situ from 25 to 1000 °C in order to follow both thermal expansion and evolution of the structural state of spinel with temperature. Thermal expansion was monitored by means of the variation of cell edge a with temperature, and found to be well represented throughout the temperature range by a regression line a = a0 (1+αΔT), slightly different at lower and higher temperatures. Thermal expansion coefficient α1, referring to the lower temperature range (i.e. during pure thermal expansion), was slightly lower than α2, calculated only over the highest temperatures. The trend showed different slopes for individual crystals. Structural evolution with temperature was studied by means of the variation of oxygen positional parameter u, which is strongly influenced by intersite cation exchange and thus closely correlated with inversion parameter x. In particular, in the three Cr samples, in which Cr resides only in the octahedral site, u parameter variations and hence the order–disorder process, started at about 700 °C. Instead, in the Fe3+ sample, this process was triggered at lower temperatures, starting at 550 °C with Fe3+–Mg exchange followed at higher temperatures by that of Mg–Al. Cr contents in the Cr samples affected the occupancy of Al in the tetrahedral site at the highest temperatures. In both Mg–Al–Cr and Mg–Al–Fe3+ compositions, if Cr∼Fe3+, parameter u reached the same value only when the Mg–Al exchange was dominant, i.e. at the highest temperatures, but not before. Cation distribution at each temperature was obtained by the bond-length model, applying thermal expansion to pure bond lengths. This method is applied here to complex compositions for the first time.


In situ heating Cr3+ spinel Fe3+ spinel X-ray diffraction Order–disorder 


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This research was carried out with the financial support of an MIUR grant (A. Della Giusta Cofin 2001: Intracrystalline ordering–disordering process in rock-forming minerals). The Italian CNR financed the installation and maintenance of the microprobe laboratory at the University of Padova. Anna Koneva and Sergio Lucchesi generously supplied the samples for this study. Mr R. Carampin kindly assisted in microanalyses. The authors are grateful to Ms G. Walton for revising the English text. H. Skogby is thanked for his useful review.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Mineralogia e PetrologiaUniversità di PadovaPadovaItaly

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