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Low temperature, authigenic illite and carbonates in a mixed dolomite-clastic lagoonal and pedogenic setting, Spanish Central System, Spain

Low temperature, authigenic illite and carbonates in a mixed dolomite-clastic lagoonal and pedogenic setting, Spanish Central System, Spain

Huggett, Jennifer, Cuadros, Javier, Gale, Andrew S., Wray, David ORCID: 0000-0002-0799-2730 and Adetunji, Jacob (2016) Low temperature, authigenic illite and carbonates in a mixed dolomite-clastic lagoonal and pedogenic setting, Spanish Central System, Spain. Applied Clay Science, 132. pp. 296-312. ISSN 0169-1317 (Print), 1872-9053 (Online) (doi:

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The aim of this study was to further our understanding of the pedogenic and lacustrine modification of clay minerals. Some of these modifications are of special interest because they constitute reverse weathering reactions, rare in surface environments, and because there is not yet an accurate assessment of their global relevance in mineralogical and geochemical cycles. For this study, two sections from the Central System in Spain were selected. Both are sections through the Uppper Cenomanian-Turonian mixed clastic and carbonate succession, containing both calcite and dolomite, in the Sierra de Guadarrama. Mid-Turonian sea level fall resulted in the formation of a coastal plain environment in which extensive pedogenesis occurred around saline lagoons. The mineralogical changes that have occurred as a result of sedimentation in saline lagoons and as a consequence of pedogenesis are described. Textural relationships indicate that the dolomite cement pre-dates the calcite. Silicate minerals are represented by quartz, kaolinite, illite-smectite, illite, minor plagioclase and alkali feldspar, and trace chlorite and palygorskite. There is a positive correlation between the intensity of pedogenesis and the proportion of illite in the clay assemblage in one of the sections, indicating pedogenic illitisation. In this section, the intensity of the illitisation process increases up, reaching a maximum where pedogenesis is most intense in the middle part, and then decreases as marine influence increases towards the top of the Alcorlo Formation and the overlying marine Tranquera Formation. The clay assemblages are consistent with a slow transformation process from 42 kaolinite to illite by way of illite-smectite, taking place under surface conditions. The illitisation process has resulted in a less Fe-rich, more Mg-, and Al-rich illite than the majority of previously documented cases in the near surface. Formation of Al-rich illite is not therefore restricted to the deep subsurface.

The mechanism for low temperature illitisation involves enhanced layer charge resulting from Mg2+ substitution for Al3+ (or Fe3+) and Fe3+ to Fe2+ reduction. Mg2+ enrichment may have occurred principally in saline lagoons or lakes, while Fe3+ to Fe2+ reduction occurred as a result of wetting and drying in a pedogenic environment. So far as it has been possible to establish, this dual mechanism has not previously been documented. This study indicates clearly that the dolomite and calcite are authigenic cements that precipitated in a clastic sediment, probably soon after deposition. Dolomitisation and Mg enrichment of the clay may have occurred at the same time. Seawater is the most probable source of Mg.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Articles published in Volumes 132–133 of Applied Clay Science.
Uncontrolled Keywords: dolomite, illitisation, kaolinite, lagoonal, pedogenesis, smectite
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Q Science > QE Geology
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > School of Science (SCI)
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2020 20:26

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