—Limonite is mainly derived from weathering of Fe sulfide, iron-bearing carbonate, or silicate minerals. The weathering of Fe sulfide or carbonate minerals to yield limonite from the Tongling mineralization cluster has been studied extensively. Knowledge of the mineralogical and geochemical characteristics of the limonite from weathering of Fe-bearing silicate minerals is still incomplete, however. To address this, black limonite containing ilvaite (a silicate mineral) found in Yeshan iron deposit, Tongling, China, was studied using mineralogical and chemical analysis. The mineralogical characteristics indicated that Mn goethite was present as nano-granular (<15 nm) or acicular (50–100 nm long, ~10 nm wide, i.e. high length/width ratio) crystals with low crystallinity. Groutite, ramsdellite, and pyrolusite were identified in the limonite as ~5 nm nanoparticles, and coated on the goethite surface. Amorphous Fe-Mn phases and silica were highly developed in the limonite studied. Ilvaite crystals showed idiomorphic granular morphology and were replaced by Fe-Mn oxides/hydroxides; pyrite was also present as inclusions within the ilvaite and the ilvaite structural formula calculated was Ca1.04(Fe1.57Mn0.31Mg0.04)(Fe1.09Al0.01)[Si1.95O]O(OH). According to the relatively high CuO and ZnO values and the low Al2O3 value in the black limonite, the negative correlations between (Fe2O3+MnO) and (CuO+ZnO+BaO), (Fe2O3+MnO) and Al2O3, high Mn and Si contents, and the characteristics of the textural relationships and compositions between the black limonite and ilvaite, a semi-enclosed environment with acidic to weakly alkaline conditions was deduced; ilvaite was found to be responsible for the formation and enrichment of limonite.

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