Abstract

—In 2000, The Clay Minerals Society established a biennial quantitative mineralogy round robin. The so-called Reynolds Cup competition is named after Bob Reynolds for his pioneering work in quantitative clay mineralogy and exceptional contributions to clay science. The first contest was run in 2002 with 40 sets of three samples, which were prepared from mixtures of purified, natural, and synthetic minerals that are commonly found in clay-bearing rocks and soils and represent realistic mineral assemblages. The rules of the competition allow any method or combination of methods to be used in the quantitative analysis of the mineral assemblages. Throughout the competition, X-ray diffraction has been the method of choice for quantifying the mineralogy of the sample mixtures with a multitude of other techniques used to assist with phase identification and quantification. In the first twelve years of the Reynolds Cup competition (2002 to 2014), around 14,000 analyses from 448 participants have been carried out on a total of 21 samples. The data provided by these analyses constitute an extensive database on the accuracy of quantitative mineral analyses and also has given enough time for the progression of improvements in such analyses. In the Reynolds Cup competition, the accuracy of a particular quantification is judged by calculating a “bias” for each phase in an assemblage. Determining exactly the true amount of a phase in the assemblage would give a bias of zero. Generally, the higher placed participants correctly identified all or most of the mineral phases present. Conversely, the worst performers failed to identify or misidentified phases. Several contestants reported a long list of minor exotic phases, which were likely reported by automated search/match programs and were mineralogically implausible. Not surprisingly, clay minerals were among the greatest sources of error reported. This article reports on the first 12 years of the Reynolds Cup competition results and analyzes the competition data to determine the overall accuracy of the mineral assemblage quantities reported by the participants. The data from the competition were also used to ascertain trends in quantification accuracy over a 12 year period and to highlight sources of error in quantitative analyses.

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