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Paul Niggli introduced a method of calculating rock analyses in 1933 based on his
concept of equivalent molecular numbers of component rock oxides. He defined the
equivalent molecular number as the ratio of weight percentage of an oxide
component to its molecular weight. The analysed oxides of the rock were converted to
these numbers and combined to derive another set of values aptly termed as Niggli
Values or Parameters. These values were calculated for each rock type and were used
for classification, provenance determination, comparison, and derivation of probable
magmatic or petrogenetic association.
Method of Calculation
The oxides are first grouped based on their geochemical associations and
similarities and converted to their equivalent molecular numbers to obtain the Niggli
parameters: fm, c, al, and alk as outlined below:
a. MgO, MnO, NiO, CoO, Cr2O3, V2O3, and Fe2O3 is added to FeO to form fm.
b. CaO is retained as an individual component and is designated as c.
c. Al2O3 is retained as an individual component and is designated as al.
d. SrO, BaO, Li2O, Rb2O, Na2O is added to K2O to form alk.
The equivalent numbers of SiO 2, TiO2, P2O5, ZrO2, CO2, SO3, F2, Cl2, S, and H2O is
calculated and designated as si, ti, p, zr, co2, so3, cl2, fu, s, and h respectively. These
may be combined with fm, c, al, and alk and recalculated to 100 %. The oxides rarely
analysed or in very low concentrations (below detection level) are ignored. The
components in ppm may be converted to weight percent and then to their equivalent
molecular number.
By convention: fm + c + al + alk = 100. Other than the calculation of the parameters
outlined above, the following ratios are calculated:

1. k = K2O / K2O + Na2O to ascertain the degree of alkalinity other than that due to
CaO or c value.
2. mg = MgO / MgO + FeO + MnO to ascertain the significance of MgO (of basic
and mafic rocks).
This parameter resembles the Mg number or Mg # used in published literature.

3. w = 2 Fe2O3 / 2 Fe2O3 + FeO to calculate the degree of oxidation of Fe.

The range of k, mg, and w is from 0 to 1. The final value Z of the rock is calculated
as follows:

Z = si + al + fm + alk + c + ti + p = 100 + si + ti + p.

Application of Niggli Values

1. Silica saturation: si'
The degree of silica saturation can be calculated and categorized as
oversaturated, saturated or undersaturated with an idea of probable minerals present
in the sampled rock.
Two conditions exist: A. Excess alumina (al) and B. Excess alkali (alk).
A. al > alk with al < (alk + c):
Limited alumina is present. [T = (al - alk) 0]. From this the si' is calculated as
si' = 6alk + 2(al+alk) + [c - (al-alk)] + fm alkali feldspar + anorthite + diopside +
and si = 100 + 4alk.
A1. al > alk and al > (alk + c):
Excess alumina is present. From this the si is calculated as follows:
si' = 6alk + 2c + [al - (alk + c)] + fm alkali feldspar + anorthite + sillimanite +
augite. 100 + 4alk.
If alumina is in excess, corundum may occur and the expression changes to:
si' = 6alk + 2c + fm alkali feldspar + anorthite + augite 100 + 5alk - al.
B. al < alk, excess alkali over alumina.
The si' value is derived as follows:
si = 6al + [4(alk-al) + c] + [fm-2(alk-al)] 100 + 3al + alk alkali feldspar +
aegerine + diopside (+ ortho augite).
The quartz saturation is now obtained by the relation:
qz = si - si',
where si is the equivalent molecular value of SiO2.
The range of qz values are explained by the following table:

qz range Remarks and interpretation

>0 Silica over saturation indicated with silica rich

minerals present: quartz, feldspar, mica, etc.
Quartz may be an essential or a major
accessory in the rock.
0 Silica saturation indicated with quartz as
accessory and minerals of medium silication.
<0 Undersaturation of silica indicated. Silica
deficient minerals present: feldspathoids,
scapolite, olivine, orthopyroxene, etc.

2. Variation Diagram.
The calculated Niggli values may be plotted in the Niggli variation diagram to
determine the provenance of a suite of related rocks.
3. Calculation of normative minerals.
Normative mineral can be calculated using Niggli values but is tedious and best
worked using the separate Niggli Norm calculation methods.

The Niggli values give an idea of the possible coexisting minerals in an igneous rock
and can be extended to metamorphic rocks. Only the essential and major accessory
minerals can be ascertained. The mode of the rock must be compared to arrive at the
possible and proper mineralogy.