DOI: 10.3390/min13081069 ISSN:

Structural and Chemical Diversity and Complexity of Sulfur Minerals

Vladimir G. Krivovichev, Sergey V. Krivovichev, Galina L. Starova
  • Geology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

The chemical and structural diversity of minerals containing sulfur as an essential mineral-forming element has been analyzed in terms of the concept of mineral systems and the information-based structural and chemical complexity parameters. The study employs data for 1118 sulfur mineral species approved by the International Mineralogical Association. All known sulfur minerals belong to nine mineral systems, with the number of essential components ranging from one to nine. The chemical and structural complexity of S minerals correlate with each other; that is, on average, chemical complexification results in structural complexification. The minerals with S–O bonds (sulfates and sulfites) are more complex than those without S–O bonds (sulfides and sulfosalts). However, the most complex sulfur mineral known so far is incomsartorite, Tl6Pb144As246S516, a sulfosalt. The complexity-generating mechanism in sulfides and sulfosalts is the complex combination of different modules excised from parent PbS or SnS archetypes with the subsequent formation of superstructures. The drivers for structural complexity in sulfates are more diverse and, in addition to modular construction and superstructures, also include a high hydration state, the presence of polyatomic clusters, and framework complexity. The most complex Martian minerals are most probably halotrichite-group minerals. The chemical and structural complexity increases with the passage of geological time with the formation of the most complex sulfosalts at Lengenbach (Swiss Alps) triggered by life (activity of sulfur-reducing bacteria).

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