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Characterisation of fibrous ferrierite in the rhyolitic tuffs at Lovelock, Nevada, USA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 April 2019

Alessandro Zoboli
Affiliation:
Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 103, Modena, I-41125, Italy
Dario Di Giuseppe
Affiliation:
Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 103, Modena, I-41125, Italy
Cecilia Baraldi
Affiliation:
Department of Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, via Campi 103, Modena, I-41125, Italy
Maria Cristina Gamberini
Affiliation:
Department of Life Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, via Campi 103, Modena, I-41125, Italy
Daniele Malferrari
Affiliation:
Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 103, Modena, I-41125, Italy
Giancarlo Urso
Affiliation:
Centro Interdipartimentale Grandi Strumenti, CIGS, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, via Campi 185, Modena, I-41125, Italy
Magdalena Lassinantti Gualtieri
Affiliation:
Department of Engineering “Enzo Ferrari”, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, I-41125, Modena, Italy
Mark Bailey
Affiliation:
Asbestos TEM Laboratories, 600 Bancroft Way, Suite A, Berkeley, California, 94710, USA.
Alessandro F. Gualtieri
Affiliation:
Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 103, Modena, I-41125, Italy
Corresponding

Abstract

Ferrierite is the name for a series of zeolite-group of minerals which includes three species with the same ferrierite framework (FER) crystal structure but different extra-framework cations. Recent studies have shown that ferrierite can exhibit a fibrous-asbestiform crystal habit and may possess the same properties as carcinogenic fibrous erionite. Characterisation of the ferrierite in and around a mine location will be helpful in assessing the potential for toxic outcomes of exposure in the mine and any local population.

The zeolite-rich tuff deposit of Lovelock, Nevada, USA is the largest occurrence of diagenetic ferrierite-Mg. A previous survey reported that ferrierite hosted in these rocks displays a fibrous morphology. However, these observations concerned a limited number of samples and until now there has been little evidence of widespread occurrence of fibrous ferrierite in the Lovelock deposit.

The main goal of this study was to perform a mineralogical and morphometric characterisation of the tuff deposit at Lovelock and evaluate the distribution of fibrous ferrierite in the outcrop. For this purpose, a multi-analytical approach including powder X-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission microscopies, micro-Raman spectroscopy, thermal analyses, and surface-area determination was applied.

The results prove fibrous ferrierite is widespread and intermixed with mordenite and orthoclase, although there are variations in the spatial distribution in the bedrock. The crystal habit of the ferrierite ranges from prismatic to asbestiform (elongated, thin and slightly flexible) and fibres are aggregated in bundles. According to the WHO counting criteria, most of the ferrierite fibres can be classified as breathable. While waiting for confirmatory in vitro and in vivo tests to assess the actual toxicity/pathogenicity potential of this mineral fibre, it is recommended to adopt a precautionary approach for mining operations in this area to reduce the risk of exposure.

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Article
Copyright
Copyright © Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2019 

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Footnotes

Associate Editor: Giancarlo Della Ventura

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