Windmountainite, ideally □Fe3+2Mg22Si8O20(OH)2(H2O)4·4H2O, is a new mineral species and member of the palygorskite group discovered as orange-brown, radiating aggregates that commonly fill vesicles (average 1.5 × 2.5 mm) within a phonolite dike at Wind Mountain, Otero County, New Mexico, USA. The mineral develops as tightly bound bundles (up to 0.02 × 6 mm) of acicular to bladed crystals that are elongate on [001] and flattened on the pinacoid {010}. Associated minerals include albite, aegirine, fluorapophyllite-(K), natrolite, neotocite, and montmorillonite, the last of these being observed to replace primary windmountainite. It has a dull luster, silky in aggregates, is translucent and has an orange-brown streak. It does not fluoresce under short-, medium-, or long-wave ultraviolet radiation. Windmountainite is brittle with a splintery fracture and has two good cleavages (predicted) on {110}, an estimated hardness of 2, a calculated density of 2.51 g/cm3, and a calculated navg of 1.593. A total of n = 30 EMPA (WDS) analyses from six grains yielded an average of (wt.%): Na2O 0.08, MgO 3.47, Al2O3 1.15, SiO2 49.76, Cl 0.07, K2O 0.40, CaO 0.68, TiO2 0.30, MnO 5.64, Fe2O3 20.17, H2O (calc.) 16.59, O=Cl –0.02, total 98.29. The empirical formula [based on Σ(T1, T2, M2, M3) = 12 cations pfu, excluding Ca, K, and Na] is: (□0.78Ca0.12K0.08Na0.02)Σ1.00(Fe3+1.93Al0.04Ti0.02)Σ1.99 (Mg0.81Mn2+0.75Fe3+0.44)Σ2.002(Si7.81Al0.17Ti0.01Fe3+0.01)Σ8.00O20[(OH)1.98Cl0.02]Σ2.00[(H2O)3.38(OH)0.62]Σ4.00·4H2O, yielding the simplified formula, □Fe3+2Mg22Si8O20(OH)2(H2O)4·4H2O. The predominance of Fe3+ is based on color, results from the crystal-structure refinement, the crystal-chemistry of palygorskite-group minerals, the association with Fe3+-dominant minerals, and considerations regarding the late-stage geochemical evolution of agpaitic rocks. The presence of H2O and OH was determined based on results from the refined crystal structure and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. Windmountainite crystallizes in the space group C2/m with a 13.759(3), b 17.911(4), c 5.274(1) Å, β 106.44(3)°, V 1246.6(1) Å3, and Z = 2. The seven strongest powder X-ray diffraction lines are [d in Å (I), (hkl)]: 10.592 (100) (110), 5.453 (16) (130), 4.484 (19) (040), 4.173 (28) forumla, 3.319 (53) (221, 400), 2.652 (30) forumla, 2.530 (27) forumla. The crystal structure was determined from single-crystal X-ray diffraction data and refined to R = 4.01% and wR2 = 10.70% using data from 902 reflections (Fo > 4σFo). It is based on sheets of inverted double chains of SiO4 tetrahedra that sandwich ribbons of Mφ6 octahedra (φ = O, OH, H2O, Cl), giving rise to large channels (∼6.5 × 9 Å) that are occupied by loosely held H2O groups. A modified classification of the palygorskite group [general crystal-chemical formula M1M22M32M42T14T24O20(OH)2(H2O,OH)4·W] is proposed based on the occupants of the four M sites. Within this scheme, windmountainite is the □-Fe3+-Mg-□ member. The palygorskite group includes six members: palygorskite (monoclinic and orthorhombic polytypes), yofortierite, tuperssuatsiaite, raite, windhoekite, and windmountainite. Windmountainite is considered to have formed from late-stage fluids that were alkaline, oxidized, and rich in both Fe3+ and H2O; high aH2O conditions are reflective of abundant, hydrated feldspathoids (natrolite and analcime) forming as primary rock-forming minerals in the phonolite at Wind Mountain.

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