The minerals of the ternary carbonate system CaCO3 - MgCO3 - FeCO3 represent a complex series of solid solutions and ordering states. An understanding of those complexities requires a solution model that can both duplicate the subsolidus phase relationships and generate correct values for the activities. Such a solution model must account for the changes in the total energy of the system resulting from a change in the ordering state of the individual constituents. Various ordering models have been applied to binary carbonate systems, but no attempts have previously been made to model the ordering in the ternary system. This study derives a new set of equations that allow for the equilibrium degree of order to be calculated for a system involving three cations mixing on two sites, as in the case of the ternary carbonates. The method is based on the Bragg-Williams approach. From the degree of order, the mole fractions of the three cations in each of the two sites can be determined. Once the site occupancies have been established, a Margules-type mixing model can be used to determine the free energy of mixing in the solid solution and therefore the activities of the various components. ?? 1993 Springer-Verlag.