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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Merelaniite is a new mineral from the tanzanite gem mines near Merelani, Lelatema Mountains, Simanjiro District, Manyara Region, Tanzania. It occurs sporadically as metallic dark gray cylindrical whiskers that are typically tens of micrometers in diameter and up to a millimeter long, although a few whiskers up to 12 mm long have been observed. The most commonly associated minerals include zoisite (variety tanzanite), prehnite, stilbite, chabazite, tremolite, diopside, quartz, calcite, graphite, alabandite, and wurtzite. In reflected polarized light, polished sections of merelaniite are gray to white in color, show strong bireflectance and strong anisotropism with pale blue and orange-brown rotation tints. Electron microprobe analysis (n = 13), based on 15 anions per formula unit, gives the formula Mo4.33Pb4.00As0.10V0.86Sb0.43Bi0.33Mn0.05 W0.05Cu0.03(S14.70Se0.30)Σ15, ideally Mo4Pb4VSbS15. An arsenic-rich variety has also been documented. X-ray diffraction, electron diffraction, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy show that merelaniite is a member of the cylindrite group, with alternating centered pseudo-tetragonal (Q) and pseudo-hexagonal (H) layers with respective PbS and MoS2 structure types. The Q and H layers are both triclinic with space group C1 or C 1¯" role="presentation" style="box-sizing: border-box; max-height: none; display: inline; line-height: normal; word-spacing: normal; overflow-wrap: normal; white-space: nowrap; float: none; direction: ltr; max-width: none; min-width: 0px; min-height: 0px; border: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; position: relative;">1¯ . The unit cell parameters for the Q layer are: a = 5.929(8) Å; b = 5.961(5) Å; c = 12.03(1) Å; α = 91.33(9); β = 90.88(5); γ = 91.79(4); V = 425(2) Å3; and Z = 4. For the H layer, a = 5.547(9) Å; b = 3.156(4) Å; c = 11.91(1) Å; α = 89.52(9); β = 92.13(5); γ = 90.18(4); V = 208(2) Å3; and Z = 2. Among naturally occurring minerals of the cylindrite homologous series, merelaniite represents the first Mo-essential member and the first case of triangular-prismatic coordination in the H layers. The strongest X-ray powder diffraction lines [d in Å (I/I0)] are 6.14 (30); 5.94 (60); 2.968 (25); 2.965 (100); 2.272 (40); 1.829 (30). The new mineral has been approved by the IMA CNMNC (2016-042) and is named after the locality of its discovery in honor of the local miners.

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