Abstract

Manganese minerals are not common and the distinction of poorly crystalline Mn minerals from other associated minerals is important. For many years, the crystal structures of poorly crystalline Mn minerals in Fe/Mn concretions have been the subject of considerable conjecture and controversy. This study reports the micromorphological and mineralogical characteristics, and the chemical composition of Fe/Mn minerals in soft Fe/Mn concretions formed in Shimajiri Mahji soils (Typic Hapludalfs) that developed from Ryukyu limestone on Okinawa Island, Japan. The Fe/Mn minerals in brittle/soft Fe/Mn concretions were characterized using a sequential selective dissolution procedure (SSDP) by treatments with NaOH, hydroxylamine hydrochloride (HAHC) at 25°C and 60°C, and dithionite-citrate-bicarbonate (DCB) in combination with X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The HAHC treatment at 25°C dissolved birnessite, but not lithiophorite and goethite. A subsequent extraction with HAHC at 60°C dissolved lithiophorite but not goethite. Finally, the DCB treatment was able to dissolve goethite. The SEM images show that birnessite crystals, with a blade- or plate-like habit, form globular aggregates inside veins and cavities. Pseudo-hexagonal crystals of lithiophorite have produced thread-ball structures with crystal shape similar to birnessite and birnessite crystals are closely associated with lithiophorite. Well developed hexagonal plates of gibbsite crystals are clustered in different directions to make foliated vermiform structures. Aggregates of goethite crystals are acicular and are arranged into stars. The supplementary SSDP, in combination with XRD and SEM techniques, provides methods to distinguish and partly quantify birnessite and lithiophorite in the presence of layer silicate and Fe oxide minerals and confirm their own morphological features.

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