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Clay mineral assemblages and analcime formation in a Palaeogene fluvial–lacustrine sequence (Maíz Gordo Formation Palaeogen) from northwestern Argentina

AuthorsCampo, Margarita do; Papa, Cecilia del; Jiménez-Millán, Juan; Nieto, F.
X-ray diffraction
Alkaline lakes
Issue Date1-Sep-2007
CitationSedimentary Geology 201(1-2): 56-74 (2007)
AbstractThe Palaeogene Maíz Gordo Formation is one of the main lacustrine events recorded in northwestern Argentina. It consists of sandstone, mudstone, and limestone beds 200 m thick, deposited in a brackish–alkaline lake and braided alluvial systems. The Maíz Gordo Lake evolved mainly as a closed system, with brief periods as an open one. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were used to study samples from seven sites, corresponding respectively to proximal, intermediate, and transitional positions of the fluvial environment and marginal and inner-lake environment, focusing on the clay mineralogy and analcime formation. The basinward zonation of diagenetic minerals identified in the Maíz Gordo Lake was: mordenite → analcime → K-feldspar. Although not a typical zonation of saline–alkaline lakes, it does indicate an increase in salinity and alkalinity towards the centre. In proximal fluvial settings, smectite predominates at the base of the sequence, with scarce kaolinite. Towards the top, a striking increase in kaolinite content suggests a change from a relatively arid climate with alternating humid and dry seasons, towards a warm and humid climate. Kaolinite content clearly decreases in a basinward direction. Such a variation is attributable to changes in hydro-geochemistry, denoting the progressive influence of the brackish and alkaline lake water on interstitial pores. SEM images of intermediate fluvial samples reveal authigenesis of illite at the expense of kaolinite booklets. In littoral and inner-lake settings the clay fraction is composed of muscovite, sometimes with subordinate smectite. Analcime occurs in variable amounts in all sedimentary facies, in rock pores or filling veins. It forms subhedral square to hexagonal, or anhedral rounded crystals, denoting that they coarsened at low to moderate degrees of supersaturation. Although the mordenite identified in a fluvial level would have been the precursor of analcime in the Maíz Gordo Basin, no textural evidence of analcime formation through replacement of mordenite or other precursor zeolite was found. Hence it is more probable that analcime formation took place by direct authigenic precipitation or through the reaction between interstitial brines and clay minerals or plagioclase.
Description22 pages, 9 figures, 1 table.
Publisher version (URL)
Appears in Collections:(IACT) Artículos

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