Abstract

We have recently discovered significant amounts of zaccagnaite, a natural Zn-Al-CO3 hydrotalcite in the El Soplao cave (north Spain). The El Soplao zaccagnaite is speleothemic, i.e., formed in the cave, and therefore it represents a new cave mineral. The origin of El Soplao zaccagnaite is related to the diagenesis of Zn- and Al-rich ferromanganese speleo-stromatolites, where it occurs as a pore-filling cement that likely precipitated at low temperature (≤ ~11 °C). In some stromatolite layers, the abundance of zaccagnaite crystals is large enough to enable their physical separation. This has allowed us to obtain its X-ray powder-diffraction pattern, infrared spectrum, and differential thermal/thermogravimetric profiles.

The cell parameters of the El Soplao zaccagnaite, refined from X-ray powder diffraction data are: a = 3.06616(1) and c = 22.6164(1) Å [α = β = 90°, γ = 120°; V = 184.139(1) Å3; Z = 3], consistent with a new trigonal polytype of zaccagnaite: zaccagnaite-3R. Besides, the El Soplao zaccagnaite shows some features previously unknown in natural hydrotalcites, such as octahedral-like morphologies and fluorescence zoning. Electron microprobe analyses revealed that the El Soplao zaccagnaite-3R has an unusual chemistry for natural hydrotalcites, as it is significantly more rich in Al (Zn2+/Al3+ = 1.6) than the hexagonal (2H) polytype (Zn2+/Al3+ = 2.0). The simplified chemical formula deduced from electron microprobe analysis is (Zn0.6Al0.4)(OH)2(CO3)0.2·0.5H2O, where C and water were calculated by stoichiometry. The carbon content calculated by stoichiometry (2.2 wt%) is in good agreement with that measured with the electron microprobe on gold-coated samples (2.5 wt%). The presence of interlayer water and CO3 groups was confirmed by thermogravimetric analysis coupled to mass spectroscopy, and by the analysis of the infrared spectrum.

You do not currently have access to this article.