A hitherto unrecognised band in the Raman spectra of silica rocks: influence of hydroxylated Si–O bonds (silanole) on the Raman moganite band in chalcedony and flint (SiO2)
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Chalcedony is a spatial arrangement of hydroxylated nanometre-sized α-quartz (SiO2) crystallites that are often found in association with the silica mineral moganite (SiO2). A supplementary Raman band at 501 cm−1 in the chalcedony spectrum, attributed to moganite, has been used for the evaluation of the quartz/moganite ratio in silica rocks. Its frequency lies at 503 cm−1 in sedimentary chalcedony, representing a 2 cm−1 difference with its position in pure moganite. We present a study of the 503 cm−1 band’s behaviour upon heat treatment, showing its gradual disappearance upon heating to temperatures above 300 °C. Infrared spectroscopic measurements of the silanole (SiOH) content in the samples as a function of annealing temperature show a good correlation between the disappearance of the 503 cm−1 Raman band and the decrease of structural hydroxyl. Thermogravimetric analyses reveal a significant weight loss that can be correlated with the decreasing of this Raman band. X-ray powder diffraction data suggest the moganite content in the samples to remain stable. We propose therefore the existence of a hitherto unknown Raman band at 503 cm−1 in chalcedony, assigned to ‘free’ Si–O vibrations of non-bridging Si–OH that oscillate with a higher natural frequency than bridging Si–O–Si (at 464 cm−1). A similar phenomenon was recently observed in the infrared spectra of chalcedony. The position of this Si–OH-related band is nearly the same as the Raman moganite band and the two bands may interfere. The actually observed Raman band in silica rocks might therefore be a convolution of a silanole and a moganite vibration. These findings have broad implications for future Raman spectroscopic studies of moganite, for the assessment of the quartz/moganite ratio, using this band, must take into account the contribution from silanole that are present in chalcedony and moganite.
KeywordsMoganite Chalcedony Quartz Silica rocks Flint Heat treatment Raman band assignment Silanole (SiOH)
We thank the Centre Européen de Recherches Préhistoriques de Tautavel (CERP) for the acquisition of the X-ray powder diffraction data used in this work. We are particularly indebted to Christian Perrenoud of the Muséum National D’Histoire Naturelle, Dpt. de Préhistoire UMR 7194 and Thibaud Saos from the CERP. We also thank the ANR program ProMiTraSil and in particular, Vanessa Léa and Philippe Sciau (Toulouse, FR) for financial support for fieldwork in Gran Canaria.
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