Characterization of barren, granitic soils from the Nubian Desert (SW Egypt) by 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy

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57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy - a versatile technique involving the recoil-free, resonant absorption and emission of nuclear gamma (γ) rays by the iron-57 isotope in natural iron in solids - has been used to provide quantitative information about the mineral host, occupation sites and oxidation states of iron atoms in geological samples. This technique has been applied to the bulk chemistry of a barren soil (Soil A) derived from an aluminous-type granite and another barren soil (Soil B) derived from a sodic-type granite located ~ 100 kilometers apart in the Nubian Deseit in the currently hyper arid south-west of Egypt and which exhibit distinct chemical and mineral differences. The analyses indicate different mineral hosts for the iron in these samples, namely, vermiculite-chlorite plus some hematite in Soil A and hematite and goethite plus minor aegirines in Soil B. Each soil has distinct intensities of oxidized iron (89% for Soil A and 100% for Soil B) and these differences reflect changes in soil sources and processes.

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