Articles | Volume 13, issue 22
Research article
18 Nov 2013
Research article |  | 18 Nov 2013

Feldspar minerals as efficient deposition ice nuclei

J. D. Yakobi-Hancock, L. A. Ladino, and J. P. D. Abbatt

Abstract. Mineral dusts are well known to be efficient ice nuclei, where the source of this efficiency has typically been attributed to the presence of clay minerals such as illite and kaolinite. However, the ice nucleating abilities of the more minor mineralogical components have not been as extensively examined. As a result, the deposition ice nucleation abilities of 24 atmospherically relevant mineral samples have been studied, using a continuous flow diffusion chamber at −40.0 ± 0.3 °C and particles size-selected at 200 nm. By focussing on using the same experimental procedure for all experiments, a relative ranking of the ice nucleating abilities of the samples was achieved. In addition, the ice nucleation behaviour of the pure minerals is compared to that of complex mixtures, such as Arizona Test Dust (ATD) and Mojave Desert Dust (MDD), and to lead iodide, which has been previously proposed for cloud seeding. Lead iodide was the most efficient ice nucleus (IN), requiring a critical relative humidity with respect to ice (RHi) of 122.0 ± 2.0% to activate 0.1% of the particles. MDD (RHi) 126.3 ± 3.4%) and ATD (RHi 129.5 ± 5.1%) have lower but comparable activity. From a set of clay minerals (kaolinite, illite, montmorillonite), non-clay minerals (e.g. hematite, magnetite, calcite, cerussite, quartz), and feldspar minerals (orthoclase, plagioclase) present in the atmospheric dusts, it was found that the feldspar minerals (particularly orthoclase) and some clays (particularly kaolinite) were the most efficient ice nuclei. Orthoclase and plagioclase were found to have critical RHi values of 127.1 ± 6.3% and 136.2 ± 1.3%, respectively. The presence of feldspars (specifically orthoclase) may play a significant role in the IN behaviour of mineral dusts despite their lower percentage in composition relative to clay minerals.

Final-revised paper