A re-assessment of the oxidation state of iron in MORB glasses

Andrew J. Berry, Glen A. Stewart, Hugh St C. O'Neill, Guilherme Mallmann, J. Fred W. Mosselmans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


The oxidation state of Fe, Fe/3+ΣFe (where ΣFe=Fe2++Fe3+), in glass samples of mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB), from a wide range of localities, was determined by XANES spectroscopy to be 0.10(2) (n=42). This value is lower than that reported previously by XANES, 0.16(1) (n=103), but consistent with the most recent value determined by redox titrations, 0.11(2) (n=104), all for similar sets of samples. We attribute the anomalously high XANES value of 0.16 to a calibration error resulting from the interpretation of Mössbauer spectra and the resulting Fe/3+ΣFe values of the standards. Our alternative interpretation removes the problem of resolving Fe/3+ΣFe values <∼0.1 in basaltic glasses, produces isomer shift and quadrupole splitting values for Fe3+ that are independent of Fe3+/ΣFe (as is the case for Fe2+), and gives Fe/3+ΣFe values that are consistent with the thermodynamically expected dependence on oxygen fugacity (fO2). Fe/3+Fe2+ is related to fO2 for our synthetic MORB composition by the temperature independent expression ΔQFM=4log⁡(Fe3+/Fe2+)+4.23(5), where ΔQFM is the fO2 in log units relative to the quartz–fayalite–magnetite buffer. The average fO2 of natural MORB was estimated to be QFM+0.1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-123
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Fe/Fe
  • MORB
  • Mössbauer spectroscopy
  • oxygen fugacity
  • XANES spectroscopy

Cite this