Special Issue "Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ruby"

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Mineral Geochemistry and Geochronology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 March 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Frederick Lin Sutherland
Website
Guest Editor
Senior Fellow, Geoscience, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia
Interests: Gem minerals,: igneous petrology; volcanism; Australian geology; West Pacific tectonics; mineral collections; mass extinctions; coastal geomorphology; geo-education
Prof. Dr. Khin Zaw
Website
Guest Editor
University of Tasmania, Geology Building, Clark Rd, Private Bag 79, Hobart TAS 7001
Interests: genetic aspects of mineral deposits; Gemstones of Myanmar; Ore genesis in Australasia, SE Asia and Canada

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ruby, red corundum, is a gem mineral with mineral properties, gem characteristics and chemistry that are reliant on critical trace element substitutions in its aluminum oxide crystal structure. Ruby has attracted scientific and economic interest. It has already been studied extensively regarding its widespread global distribution and the diversity of its geological associations, as revealed by exploration and exploitation. Researchers are becoming increasingly aware that geographic typing of ruby characteristics and its host assemblages may guide further exploration and provide checks on reputed sources of both rough and cut stones. Genetic pointers, based on fluid and solid mineral inclusions, oxygen and other isotope values and pressure and temperature estimates, have already yielded much genetic information. Rare ruby in mantle xenoliths, TP ~1100o C, 2GPa, epitaxial diamond in ruby and ruby in diamond have special interest. Amid the present extensive documentation on this singular gem mineral, new insights and co-existing associations remain to be discovered. Although ruby largely appears in metamorphic and metasomatic source rocks, newer studies suggest it may also arise from magmatic sources. Age-dating of a range of mineral inclusions in ruby now allows more precise modelling of ruby genesis. Tectonic aspects of ruby genesis related to early collisional plate events on Earth are also a frontier for further understanding. In addition, ruby growth remains an important phase in metamorphic studies of events in some young collisional zones. This Special Issue planned for Minerals aims to attract further studies on this multi-origin gem mineral. Investigations at the ‘economic border’ of ruby and sapphire nomenclature and relevant treatments affecting ruby color will be considered.

Dr. Frederick Lin Sutherland
Prof. Dr. Khin Zaw
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • gem corundum
  • ruby research
  • trace elements
  • spectroscopy
  • O isotopes
  • inclusions;
  • P-T genesis
  • metamorphic reactions
  • gem deposits
  • geographic typing

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Identification of Opaque Sulfide Inclusions in Rubies from Mogok, Myanmar and Montepuez, Mozambique
Minerals 2020, 10(6), 492; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10060492 - 27 May 2020
Abstract
The red variety of corundum owes its color and strong fluorescence to the presence of Cr, as well as traces of Fe. The latter can reduce the fluorescence and thus impact the appearance of the final gem. Gem quality rubies are rarely available [...] Read more.
The red variety of corundum owes its color and strong fluorescence to the presence of Cr, as well as traces of Fe. The latter can reduce the fluorescence and thus impact the appearance of the final gem. Gem quality rubies are rarely available for scientific study and even less common in their rough form. Opaque inclusions in rubies are often removed during faceting and remain unidentified. This study aims to identify opaque inclusions in rubies from the two most common origins seen in the high end market today: Mogok, Myanmar and Montepuez, Mozambique. Using electron probe microanalaysis (EPMA) the inclusions were identified as sphalerite and pyrrhotite in Mogok rubies. The paragenesis of Myanmar, marble-related rubies is fairly well understood and no Fe-rich minerals apart from sulfides have been identified. Opaque inclusions in Mozambican rubies are a complex mix of Fe-Cu-Ni sulfides with exsolution textures. These inclusions are interpreted to be small amounts of sulfide melt trapped during corundum formation. The different sulfide phases crystallized from this entrapped melt and some phases experienced later exsolution during cooling. The formation of amphibole-related, Mozambican rubies is not well understood, but it is obvious that very different processes are at work compared to the marble-related Myanmar ruby deposits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ruby)
Open AccessArticle
Petrogenesis of the Snezhnoe Ruby Deposit, Central Pamir
Minerals 2020, 10(5), 478; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10050478 - 24 May 2020
Abstract
The Snezhnoe ruby deposit is located in the Muzkol–Rangkul anticlinorium within the Cimmerian zone of the Central Pamir. On the local scale, the deposit occurs on discrete relict bedding planes of calcitic marbles belonging to the Sarydzhilgin suite. Four ruby-bearing mineral assemblages are [...] Read more.
The Snezhnoe ruby deposit is located in the Muzkol–Rangkul anticlinorium within the Cimmerian zone of the Central Pamir. On the local scale, the deposit occurs on discrete relict bedding planes of calcitic marbles belonging to the Sarydzhilgin suite. Four ruby-bearing mineral assemblages are present within the main parts of the deposit: (1) scapolite + phlogopite + muscovite + margarite; (2) plagioclase + muscovite + margarite; (3) muscovite + phlogopite + margarite; (4) calcite. The ruby + calcite association is the most economically important, whereas the association of plagioclase + scapolite + phlogopite + muscovite is typical for the ruby-free parts of the deposit. Mica group minerals with a distinctive green color due to enhanced Cr and V concentrations are the main prospecting indicators for the ruby mineralization. The oxygen isotopic composition of the rubies is +15.3‰, a common value for crustal metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. The ratios of indicative trace elements in the rubies are Ga/Mg < 8.2, Fe/Mg < 51.2, Cr/Ga > 6.9 and Fe/Ti < 31.6. These values are characteristic for metamorphic corundum. The bulk ruby-bearing rocks have an initial 87Sr/86Sr ratio of ~0.70791 and εNd of ~−9.6, also pointing to the crustal origin of the deposit in agreement with the geological data. Ancient Al-enriched sediments are suggested to be a possible protolith for the ruby-bearing rocks. The temperature of the metamorphic processes was estimated at 760 ± 30 °C using Zr-in-rutile geothermometry. Raman mapping of rutile inclusions trapped within the ruby crystal indicates that the minimum pressure of mineralization was about one kilobar. The age determined by the Rb–Sr thermal ionization mass spectrometry of phlogopite, plagioclase and bulk rock is 23 ± 1.6 Ma, corresponding to the timing of relaxation after peak metamorphism during the Alpine–Himalayan Orogeny. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ruby)
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Open AccessArticle
Coexisting Rubies and Blue Sapphires from Major World Deposits: A Brief Review of Their Mineralogical Properties
Minerals 2020, 10(5), 472; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10050472 - 22 May 2020
Abstract
Gem corundum deposits are typically divided into blue sapphire and ruby deposits. However, this classification often overlooks the fact that the precious stones produced are the same mineral with only an overall slight difference in their trace element profiles. It can take only [...] Read more.
Gem corundum deposits are typically divided into blue sapphire and ruby deposits. However, this classification often overlooks the fact that the precious stones produced are the same mineral with only an overall slight difference in their trace element profiles. It can take only a couple thousand ppm chromium to create the rich, red color expected of a ruby. This contribution deals specifically with economically important gem corundum mining regions that produce both blue sapphires and rubies either in comparable quantities (Mogok, Myanmar, and the basalt-related gem fields on the border between Thailand and Cambodia at Chanthaburi, Thailand, and Pailin, Cambodia) or predominantly blue sapphires with rare rubies (secondary Montana sapphire deposits and Yogo Gulch in Montana as well as the gem fields of Sri Lanka). Comparison of the trace element profiles and inclusions in the blue sapphire/ruby assemblages in these deposits shows that there are both monogenetic and polygenetic assemblages in which the blue sapphires and rubies have the same geological origin (monogenetic) or distinct geological origins (polygenetic). In the monogenetic assemblages, the rubies and blue sapphires have essentially indistinguishable inclusions and trace element chemistry profiles (with the exception of Cr contents). On the other hand, polygenetic assemblages are composed of rubies and blue sapphires with distinct inclusions and trace element chemistry profiles. Notably, in the monogenetic assemblages, chromium seems to vary independently from other trace elements. In these assemblages, Cr can vary by nearly four orders of magnitude with essentially no consistent relationship to other trace elements. The observations described herein are an attempt to address the question of what the geochemical and geological constraints are that turn gem corundum into a spectacular ruby. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ruby)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
An Evaluation of the Potential for Determination of the Geographic Origin of Ruby and Sapphire Using an Expanded Trace Element Suite Plus Sr–Pb Isotope Compositions
Minerals 2020, 10(5), 447; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10050447 - 16 May 2020
Abstract
The geographic origin of gem corundum has emerged as one of its major value factors. Combined with gemological observations, trace element analysis is a powerful tool for the determination of corundum provenance. However, owing to similar properties and features of gem corundum from [...] Read more.
The geographic origin of gem corundum has emerged as one of its major value factors. Combined with gemological observations, trace element analysis is a powerful tool for the determination of corundum provenance. However, owing to similar properties and features of gem corundum from different localities, but similar geological settings, and very low levels of many trace elements in gem corundum, the determination of geographic origin remains challenging. In this study, we present trace elements compositions determined by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) for rubies and blue sapphires from several different localities of geologically similar deposits: high-Fe amphibolite-type rubies, low-Fe marble-type rubies, and metamorphic blue sapphires. In addition, we determined Sr and Pb isotopic ratios by offline laser ablation sampling followed by thermal ionization mass spectroscopy (TIMS). By applying new and existing elemental discrimination schemes and the multivariate statistical method linear discriminant analysis (LDA), we show that, in addition to the commonly used discriminators Mg, Fe, V, Ti, and Ga, the elements Ni, Zr, Cr, and Zn show potential for geographic origin determination. Amphibolite-type rubies from different localities can be discriminated using Sr and Pb isotope ratios, whereas the discrimination of marble-type ruby and metamorphic blue sapphires is limited. Our results re-emphasize the challenge of geographic origin determination and the need for a more powerful discriminatory tool. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ruby)
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Open AccessArticle
U–Pb Dating of Zircon and Zirconolite Inclusions in Marble-Hosted Gem-Quality Ruby and Spinel from Mogok, Myanmar
Minerals 2020, 10(2), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10020195 - 21 Feb 2020
Abstract
The Mogok area in Myanmar (Burma) is known since historic times as a source for some of the finest rubies and spinels in the world. In this study, we focus on in-situ U–Pb geochronological analyses of zircon and zirconolite, either present as inclusions [...] Read more.
The Mogok area in Myanmar (Burma) is known since historic times as a source for some of the finest rubies and spinels in the world. In this study, we focus on in-situ U–Pb geochronological analyses of zircon and zirconolite, either present as inclusions in gem-quality ruby and spinel or as accessory minerals in ruby- and spinel-bearing marble and adjacent granulite facies gneisses. The age determination was carried out using both laser ablation inductively coupled plasma time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-TOF-MS) and sector-field mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-SF-MS). In addition, we present multi-element data (REE) of zircon and zirconolite collected with LA-ICP-TOF-MS to further characterize these inclusions. Most of the studied zircon grains display growth zoning (core/rim) regardless if as inclusion in gemstones, or as accessory mineral in host rock samples. U–Pb dating was conducted on both core and rim of zircon grains and revealed most ages ranging from ~200 Ma in the core to ~17 Ma in the rim. The youngest U–Pb ages determined from the rim of zircon inclusions in gem-quality ruby and spinel are 22.26 ± 0.36 Ma and 22.88 ± 0.72 Ma, respectively. This agreement in U–Pb ages is interpreted to indicate a simultaneous formation of ruby and spinel in the Mogok area. In ruby- and spinel-bearing marble from Bawlongyi, the youngest zircon age was determined as 17.11 ± 0.22 Ma. Furthermore, U–Pb age measured on the rim of zircon grains in a biotite-garnet gneiss reveals a Late Oligocene age (26.13 ± 1.24 Ma), however older ages up to Precambrian age were also recorded in the cores of zircon as accessory minerals from this gneiss. These old ages point to a detrital origin of the analysed zircon cores. Although non-matrix matched standard was applied, zirconolite U–Pb age results are narrower in distribution from ~35 Ma to ~17 Ma, falling within the range of zircon ages. Based on results which are well in accordance with previous geochronological data from the Mogok Metamorphic Belt (MMB), we deduce that gem-quality ruby and spinel from Mogok probably formed during a granulite-facies regional metamorphic event in Oligocene to Early Miocene, related to post collision tectonics of the Eurasian and Indian plates. Our data not only provide key information to understand the formation of gem-quality ruby and spinel in the so-called Mogok Stone Tract, but also provide assisting evidence when determining the country of origin of gemstones in gemmological laboratories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ruby)
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Open AccessArticle
The First Find of Cr2O3 Eskolaite Associated with Marble-Hosted Ruby in the Southern Urals and the Problem of Al and Cr Sources
Minerals 2020, 10(2), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10020101 - 24 Jan 2020
Abstract
The results of the study of eskolaite associated with marble-hosted ruby found for the first time in the Kuchinskoe occurrence (Southern Urals) are presented. Here, eskolaite was located on the surface and near-surface regions of ruby crystals. Eskolaite diagnostics was confirmed by powder [...] Read more.
The results of the study of eskolaite associated with marble-hosted ruby found for the first time in the Kuchinskoe occurrence (Southern Urals) are presented. Here, eskolaite was located on the surface and near-surface regions of ruby crystals. Eskolaite diagnostics was confirmed by powder X-ray diffraction (URS-55). The morphology and chemical composition of eskolaite and associated ruby was studied using a JSM-6390LV scanning electron microscope and a Cameca SX 100 electron probe microanalyzer. The eskolaite crystals were hexagonal and tabular, up to 0.2 mm in size. Ruby mineralization was formed during prograde and retrograde dynamothermal metamorphism. The eskolaite associated with the prograde stage ruby contained Al2O3 (9.1–23.62 wt %), TiO2 (0.52–9.66 wt %), V2O3 (0.53–1.54 wt %), FeO (0.03–0.1 wt %), MgO (0.05–0.24 wt %), and SiO2 (0.1–0.21 wt %). The eskolaite associated with the retrograde stage ruby was distinguished by a sharp depletion in Ti and contained Al2O3 (12.25–21.2 wt %), TiO2 (0.01–0.07 wt %), V2O3 (0.32–1.62 wt %), FeO (0.01–0.08 wt %), MgO (0.0–0.48 wt %), and SiO2 (0.01–0.1 wt %). The associated rubies contained almost equal amounts of Cr2O3 (2.36–2.69 wt %) and were almost free from admixtures. The identification of the eskolaite associated with the marble-hosted rubies from the Kuchinskoe occurrence is a new argument in favor of introduction of Al and Cr into the mineral formation zone. The mineralization was localized in the metamorphic frame of the granite gneiss domes and was formed synchronously with them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Ruby)
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