A simple general equation is presented for estimating the Fe3+ concentrations in ferromagnesian oxide and silicate minerals from microprobe analyses. The equation has been derived using stoichiometric criteria assuming that iron is the only element present with variable valency and that oxygen is the only anion. In general, the number of Fe3+ ions per X oxygens in the mineral formula, F, is given by;
where T is the ideal number of cations per formula unit, and S is the observed cation total per X oxygens calculated assuming all iron to be Fe2+. Minerals for which this equation is appropriate include pyralspite and ugrandite garnet, aluminate spinel, magnetite, pyroxene, sapphirine and ilmenite. The equation cannot be used for minerals with cation vacancies (e.g. micas, maghemite) unless, as in the case of amphiboles, the number of ions of a subset of elements in the formula can be fixed. Variants of the above equation are presented for some of the numerous published schemes for the recalculation of amphibole formulae. The equation is also inappropriate for minerals showing Si4+ = 4H+ substitution (e.g. staurolite, hydrogarnet), minerals containing an unknown proportion of an unanalysed element other than oxygen (e.g. boron-bearing kornerupine) and minerals containing two or more elements with variable valency.