Abstract

The structure hierarchy hypothesis states that structures may be ordered hierarchically according to the polymerisation of coordination polyhedra of higher bond-valence. A hierarchical structural classification is developed for sheet-silicate minerals based on the connectedness of the two-dimensional polymerisations of (TO4) tetrahedra, where T = Si4+ plus As5+, Al3+, Fe3+, B3+, Be2+, Zn2+ and Mg2+. Two-dimensional nets and oikodoméic operations are used to generate the silicate (sensu lato) structural units of single-layer, double-layer and higher-layer sheet-silicate minerals, and the interstitial complexes (cation identity, coordination number and ligancy, and the types and amounts of interstitial (H2O) groups) are recorded. Key aspects of the silicate structural unit include: (1) the type of plane net on which the sheet (or parent sheet) is based; (2) the u (up) and d (down) directions of the constituent tetrahedra relative to the plane of the sheet; (3) the planar or folded nature of the sheet; (4) the layer multiplicity of the sheet (single, double or higher); and (5) the details of the oikodoméic operations for multiple-layer sheets. Simple 3-connected plane nets (such as 63, 4.82 and 4.6.12) have the stoichiometry (T2O5)n (Si:O = 1:2.5) and are the basis of most of the common rock-forming sheet-silicate minerals as well as many less-common species. Oikodoméic operations, e.g. insertion of 2- or 4-connected vertices into 3-connected plane nets, formation of double-layer sheet-structures by (topological) reflection or rotation operations, affect the connectedness of the resulting sheets and lead to both positive and negative deviations from Si:O = 1:2.5 stoichiometry. Following description of the structural units in all sheet-silicate minerals, the minerals are arranged into decreasing Si:O ratio from 3.0 to 2.0, an arrangement that reflects their increasing structural connectivity. Considering the silicate component of minerals, the range of composition of the sheet silicates completely overlaps the compositional ranges of framework silicates and most of the chain-ribbon-tube silicates.

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