Micro-Raman Spectroscopy and X-ray Diffraction Analyses of the Core and Shell Compartments of an Iron-Rich Fulgurite

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Karadag A., Kaygisiz E., Nikitin T., Ongen S., ÖĞRÜÇ ILDIZ G., AYSAL N., ...More

MOLECULES, vol.27, no.10, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 27 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/molecules27103053
  • Journal Name: MOLECULES
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aerospace Database, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Communication Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Keywords: mineralogical composition, iron-rich fulgurite, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, chemometrics, SEM-BSE, SEM-EDX, polarized optical microscopy, CRYSTALLOGRAPHY OPEN DATABASE, OPEN-ACCESS COLLECTION, HEMATITE, CLASSIFICATION, ANGLESITE, FELDSPARS, MINERALS, SULFATE
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Fulgurites are naturally occurring structures that are formed when lightning discharges reach the ground. In this investigation, the mineralogical compositions of core and shell compartments of a rare, iron-rich fulgurite from the Mongolian Gobi Desert were investigated by X-ray diffraction and micro-Raman spectroscopy. The interpretation of the Raman data was helped by chemometric analysis, using both multivariate curve resolution (MCR) and principal component analysis (PCA), which allowed for the fast identification of the minerals present in each region of the fulgurite. In the core of the fulgurite, quartz, microcline, albite, hematite, and barite were first identified based on the Raman spectroscopy and chemometrics analyses. In contrast, in the shell compartment of the fulgurite, the detected minerals were quartz, a mixture of the K-feldspars orthoclase and microcline, albite, hematite, and goethite. The Raman spectroscopy results were confirmed by X-ray diffraction analysis of powdered samples of the two fulgurite regions, and are consistent with infrared spectroscopy data, being also in agreement with the petrographic analysis of the fulgurite, including scanning electron microscopy with backscattering electrons (SEM-BSE) and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX) data. The observed differences in the mineralogical composition of the core and shell regions of the studied fulgurite can be explained by taking into account the effects of both the diffusion of the melted material to the periphery of the fulgurite following the lightning and the faster cooling at the external shell region, together with the differential properties of the various minerals. The heavier materials diffused slower, leading to the concentration in the core of the fulgurite of the iron and barium containing minerals, hematite, and barite. They first underwent subsequent partial transformation into goethite due to meteoric water within the shell of the fulgurite. The faster cooling of the shell region kinetically trapped orthoclase, while the slower cooling in the core area allowed for the extensive formation of microcline, a lower temperature polymorph of orthoclase, thus justifying the prevalence of microcline in the core and a mixture of the two polymorphs in the shell. The total amount of the K-feldspars decreases only slightly in the shell, while quartz and albite appeared in somewhat larger amounts in this compartment of the fulgurite. On the other hand, at the surface of the fulgurite, barite could not be stabilized due to sulfate lost (in the form of SO2 plus O-2 gaseous products). The conjugation of the performed Raman spectroscopy experiments with the chemometrics analysis (PCA and, in particular, MCR analyses) was shown to allow for the fast identification of the minerals present in the two compartments (shell and core) of the sample. This way, the XRD experiments could be done while knowing in advance the minerals that were present in the samples, strongly facilitating the data analysis, which for compositionally complex samples, such as that studied in the present investigation, would have been very much challenging, if possible.