A new structural model for ferrihydrite that challenges the standard ferrihydrite model established by X-ray diffraction and confirmed by neutron diffraction and single-crystal electron nanodiffraction was recently proposed by Michel et al. (2007a) from the simulation of the pair distribution function obtained by Fourier transformation of diffraction data measured at λ = 0.137 Å. The new ferrihydrite model is isostructural to akdalaite (Al10O14(OH)2), a mineral having the Baker-Figgis δ-isomer of the Al13-Keggin structure as its structural motif. The new model is unrealistic because: (1) it is completely periodic (i.e. defect-free); (2), it has 20% tetravalent octahedral iron (VIFe4+), 20% divalent tetrahedral iron (IVFe2+), and some IVFe–O distances equal to or larger than the VIFe3+–O distances, thus violating Pauling's 2nd rule; (3) it does not describe X-ray diffraction and EXAFS spectroscopic data; and, (4) it is inconsistent with electron microscopy results and contradicts previous X-ray scattering studies.

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