Abstract

A Th-rich mineral of the crandallite group has been investigated from the weathering profile of the Schugorsk bauxite deposit, Timan, Russia. It occurs within thin (up to 0.5 mm) organic-rich veinlets together with ‘leucoxene’ in the form of small shapeless grains which vary in size from 1–2 μm to 60–70 μm. Rare grains disseminated among boehmite crystals were also found. Microprobe analyses determined that the ThO2 content can be as high as 18 wt.%. The mineral composition is intermediate between crandallite CaAl3H(PO4)2(OH)6, goyazite SrAl3H(PO4)2(OH)6, Th-crandallite and svanbergite SrAl3PO4SO4(OH)6 in the beudantite group.

Comparatively high contents of Fe and Si and a very high positive Th and Fe content correlation (r = +0.98) suggest that the formula of the hypothetical Th-bearing end-member is ThFe3(PO4,SiO4)2(OH)6 with Th and Si substituting for REE and P respectively (woodhouseite-type substitution). Another possible substitution is Th4+ + Ca2+ ⇌2REE3+ (florencite-type). A deficiency of cations in the X site can be explained by either the presence of carbon, undetectable by microprobe, in the crystal lattice or a lack of X-site cations due to radiation damage induced by Th. Some excess of cations in the B site (Al and Fe3+) can be explained by the presence of very small boehmite and hematite inclusions on the crandallite grain surfaces. Th-rich crandallite may be the result of alteration of an unidentified silicate mineral from the parent rock with a composition close to the simplified formula Fe2+ThSiO4(OH)2.

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