Mössbauer spectroscopic studies on the iron forms of deep-sea sediments

M. Drodt, A. X. Trautwein*, I. König, E. Suess, C. Bender Koch

*Corresponding author for this work
21 Citations (Scopus)


Mössbauer spectroscopy was applied to characterize the valence states Fe (II) and Fe (III) in sedimentary minerals from a core of the Peru Basin. The procedure in unraveling this information includes temperature-dependent measurements from 275 K to very low temperature (300 mK) in zero-field and also at 4.2 K in an applied field (up to 6.2 T) and by mathematical procedures (least-squares fits and spectral simulations) in order to resolve individual spectral components. The depth distribution of the amount of Fe(II) is about 11% of the total Fe to a depth of 19 cm with a subsequent steep increase (within 3 cm) to about 37%, after which it remains constant to the lower end of the sediment core (at about 40 cm). The steep increase of the amount of Fe (II) defines a redox boundary which coincides with the position where the tan/green color transition of the sediment occurs. The isomer shifts and quadrupole splittings of Fe(II) and Fe(III) in the sediment are consistent with hexacoordination by oxygen or hydroxide ligands as in oxide and silicate minerals. Goethite and traces of hematite are observed only above the redox boundary, with a linear gradient extending from about 20% of the total Fe close to the sediment surface to about zero at the redox boundary. The superparamagnetic relaxation behavior allows to estimate the order of magnitude for the size of the largest goethite and hematite particles within the particle-site distribution, e.g. ∼170 Å and ∼50 Å, respectively. The composition of the sediment spectra recorded at 300 mK in zero-field, apart from the contributions due to goethite and hematite, resembles that of the sheet silicates smectite, illite and chlorite, which have been identified as major constituents of the sediment in the <2 μm fraction by X-ray diffraction. The specific "ferromagnetic" type of magnetic ordering in the sediment, as detected at 4.2 K in an applied field, also resembles that observed in sheet silicates and indicates that both Fe(II) and Fe(III) are involved in magnetic ordering. This "ferromagnetic" behavior is probably due to the double-exchange mechanism known from other mixed-valence Fe(II)-Fe(III) systems. A significant part of the clay-mineral iron is redox sensitive. It is proposed that the color change of the sediment at the redox boundary from tan to green is related to the increase of Fe(II)-Fe(III) pairs in the layer silicates, because of the intervalence electron transfer bands which are caused by such pairs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysics and Chemistry of Minerals
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.1997


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