I have found this very useful SQL to identify what type of initialization parameter file an oracle instance has started with.
Found this on Thomas Kyte’s site at http://asktom.oracle.com most useful information as ever!
Run the following as SYSDBA.
SELECT DECODE(COUNT(*), 1, 'spfile', 'pfile')
WHERE ROWNUM = 1
AND ISSPECIFIED = ‘TRUE’
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