A detailed crystal-chemical study of the complex layered silicate molybdophyllite was conducted using single-crystal X-ray diffraction (XRD) methods, supplemented by powder XRD, infrared (IR) and Raman spectroscopic studies, chemical analyses by energy-dispersive spectrometry (EDS) on a scanning electron microscope (SEM), and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA). The results, based on several samples from both Långban and Harstigen, Filipstad, Sweden, show that the crystal structure of molybdophyllite has an order-disorder (OD) character. The latter is especially evident in specimens from Långban which display a complex diffraction pattern characterized by the simultaneous presence of sharp spots, diffuse reflections and continuous streaks. The sharp reflections define the unit cell of the family structure (a = 3.124, c = 41.832 Å, space group R32). Two main polytypes (maximum degree of order structures) are indicated by the OD approach: a trigonal one and a monoclinic one; the latter polytype is the most common in the samples that were studied and has space group C2, with a = 16.232(6), b = 9.373(2), c = 14.060(3) Å, β = 97.36(4)° and V = 2121.5(10) Å3.

The crystal structure determination [R1 = 0.096], together with the EPMA, IR and Raman data, reveal that molybdophyllite is built up by a regular alternation of complex layers with a composition {Mg9[Si10O28(OH)8][OPb4]2}6+ and simple layers with a composition [(CO3)3·H2O]6−, leading to the ideal crystal-chemical formula Pb8Mg9[Si10O28(OH)8|O2|(CO3)3]·H2O (Z = 2).

This contribution is mainly devoted to the results obtained for molybdophyllite sensu stricto, but new data for britvinite [i.e. ‘molybdophyllite-18 Å’] are also presented and its modular relationship with molybdophyllite is discussed.

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