A low-temperature phase diagram for ilmenite-rich compositions in the system Fe2O3 -FeTiO3

Benjamin P. Burton*, Peter Robinson, Suzanne A. McEnroe, Karl Fabian, Tiziana Boffa Ballar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


An approximate low-temperature, metastable phase diagram is drawn for the system (1 - X) Fe2O3- (X)FeTiO3. It is based on published and new magnetic data from nine synthetic samples with bulk compositions in the range 0.6 < X < 1.0. Fields are plotted for (1) the paramagnetic phase (PM); the Fe2O3-rich ferrimagnetic phase (FM); (2) the FeTiO3-rich antiferromagnetic phase (AF); and (3) a re-entrant spin-glass phase (RSG). In addition, two subfields are plotted: (1) FM', a subfield of the FM-phase, which occurs below a characteristic temperature TK, at which the magnetic susceptibility drops sharply on cooling, and (2) PM', a subfield of the PM-phase (traditionally called superparamagnetic) forms below a sharp rise in susceptibility at TS, and exhibits measurable dispersion in the magnetic susceptibility at T< TS. The diagram is drawn with a bicritical point, Tλλ', at X ≈ 0.87, T ≈ 39 K, which is the intersection of second-order magnetic phase boundaries for the paramagnetic → ferrimagnetic [PM(PM') → FM] transition, TC(X), and the PM(PM') → AF transition, TN(X). In addition, the RSG phase is plotted as one of four stable phases at Tλλ', a construction that is not required by the phase rule, but is strongly favored by the physics of competition between the incompatible magnetically ordered structures of the FM- and AF-phases. These phase relations are at such low temperature as to be of little consequence for terrestrial magnetism, however, they may well be essential for interpreting the magnetism of the Moon, Mars, and other cold planets. These phase relations are also essential for the characterization of fine natural and synthetic intergrowths, and for understanding magnetic materials for low-temperature technological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1260-1272
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Mineralogist
Issue number8-9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Hematite-ilmenite
  • Magnetic properties
  • Phase diagram
  • Spin glass


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