Exceptionally small spheres (nanospheres) of hematite (diameters between 120 and 200 nanometers) occur in the Marra Mamba Iron Formation of the Hamersley Basin, Australia. The nanospheres are clustered into small aggregates and may have formed by structural ordering and dehydration of colloidal iron hydroxide particles. Individual spheres consist of numerous thin, curved hematite platelets surrounding a central void that is approximately half the diamter of the sphere; this texture suggests that they formed by a volume reduction of the original colloidal particles by ∼12.5%. The occurrence of hematite nanospheres supports the hypothesis that some of the iron was deposited colloidally during the development of banded iron formations, approximately 2.5 billion years ago.
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