Abstract

Běhounekite, orthorhombic U(SO4)2(H2O)4, is the first natural sulphate of U4+. It was found in the Geschieber vein, Jáchymov (St Joachimsthal) ore district, Western Bohemia, Czech Republic, crystallized on the altered surface of arsenic and associated with kaatialaite, arsenolite, claudetite, unnamed phase UM1997-20-AsO:HU and gypsum. Běhounekite most commonly forms short-prismatic to tabular green crystals, rarely up to 0.5 mm long. The crystals have a strong vitreous lustre and a grey to greenish grey streak. They are brittle with an uneven fracture and have very good cleavage along {100}. The Mohs hardness is about 2. The mineral is not fluorescent either in short- or long-wavelength UV radiation. Běhounekite is moderately pleochroic, α~β is pale emerald green and γ is emerald green, and is optically biaxial (+) with α = 1.590(2), β = 1.618(4), γ = 1.659(2) (590 nm), 2V (calc.) = 81°, birefringence 0.069. The empirical formula of běhounekite (based on 12 O atoms, from an average of five point analyses) is (U0.99Y0.03)Σ1.02(SO4)1.97(H2O)4. The simplified formula is U(SO4)2(H2O)4, which requires UO2 53.77, SO3 31.88, H2O 14.35, total 100.00 wt.%. Běhounekite is orthorhombic, space group Pnma, a = 14.6464(3), b = 11.0786(3), c = 5.6910(14) Å, V = 923.43(4) Å3, Z = 4, Dcalc = 3.62 g cm−3. The seven strongest diffraction peaks in the X-ray powder diffraction pattern are [dobs in Å (I) (hkl)]: 7.330 (100) (200), 6.112 (54) (210), 5.538 (21) (020), 4.787 (42) (111), 3.663 (17) (400), 3.478 (20) (410), 3.080 (41) (321). The crystal structure of běhounekite has been solved by the charge-flipping method from single-crystal X-ray diffraction data and refined to R1 = 2.10 % with a GOF = 1.51, based on 912 unique observed diffractions. The crystal structure consists of layers built up from [8]-coordinate uranium atoms and sulphate tetrahedra. The eight ligands include four oxygen atoms from the sulphate groups and four oxygen atoms from the H2O molecules. Each uranium coordination polyhedron is connected via sulphate tetrahedra with other uranium polyhedra and through hydrogen bonds to the apices of sulphate tetrahedra. The dominant features of the Raman and infrared spectra of běhounekite are related to stretching vibrations of SO4 tetrahedra (~1200–950 cm−1), O–H stretching modes (~3400–3000 cm−1) and H–O–H bending modes (~1650 cm−1). The mineral is named in honour of František Běhounek, a well known Czech nuclear physicist.

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