The incorporation of Fe2+ was investigated in four natural cordierite samples. 57Fe Mössbauer, single-crystal UV-VIS optical absorption, and X-ray absorption spectroscopies, as well as X-ray single-crystal diffraction were used. Mössbauer, optical, and XAS spectroscopy show that Fe2+ is incorporated on two different structural sites in two Mg-rich samples. Mössbauer measurements give the best quantitative measure of the amounts of Fe2+, but the optical spectra are the most sensitive for determinations at low concentrations and at high-bulk Fe2+ concentrations in cordierite. The spectroscopic data are most consistent with small amounts of Fe2+ (i.e., 0.02 of Fe2+ per formula unit) being located on a tetrahedral site rather than in the center (or off center) of the six-membered tetrahedral rings or in channel cavities. X-ray single-crystal refinements on two Mg-rich cordierites show a very small excess electron density on T11 and not in the channels. A third refinement on a slightly more iron-rich sample shows, in contrast, no excess electron density on T11. We interpret these data as indicating that small amounts of Fe2+ (0.01 to 0.02 atoms per formula unit) replace tetrahedral Al11 in cordierite, where charge balance is achieved by placing Na in the center of the six-membered rings. This substitution is consistent with the known chemistry of natural cordierites and with simple structural energetics. The identification and assignment of small amounts of Fe2+ on T11 requires spectroscopic determination or careful X-ray single-crystal refinements and cannot be achieved from composition data and structural formula calculations.

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