PyXRD v0.6.7: a free and open-source program to quantify disordered phyllosilicates using multi-specimen X-ray diffraction profile fitting
- Department of Geology and Soil Science (WE13), Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281/S8, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Abstract. This paper presents a free and open-source program called PyXRD (short for Python X-ray diffraction) to improve the quantification of complex, poly-phasic mixed-layer phyllosilicate assemblages. The validity of the program was checked by comparing its output with Sybilla v2.2.2, which shares the same mathematical formalism. The novelty of this program is the ab initio incorporation of the multi-specimen method, making it possible to share phases and (a selection of) their parameters across multiple specimens. PyXRD thus allows for modelling multiple specimens side by side, and this approach speeds up the manual refinement process significantly. To check the hypothesis that this multi-specimen set-up – as it effectively reduces the number of parameters and increases the number of observations – can also improve automatic parameter refinements, we calculated X-ray diffraction patterns for four theoretical mineral assemblages. These patterns were then used as input for one refinement employing the multi-specimen set-up and one employing the single-pattern set-ups. For all of the assemblages, PyXRD was able to reproduce or approximate the input parameters with the multi-specimen approach. Diverging solutions only occurred in single-pattern set-ups, which do not contain enough information to discern all minerals present (e.g. patterns of heated samples). Assuming a correct qualitative interpretation was made and a single pattern exists in which all phases are sufficiently discernible, the obtained results indicate a good quantification can often be obtained with just that pattern. However, these results from theoretical experiments cannot automatically be extrapolated to all real-life experiments. In any case, PyXRD has proven to be useful when X-ray diffraction patterns are modelled for complex mineral assemblages containing mixed-layer phyllosilicates with a multi-specimen approach.