Abstract: The clay-mineral composition of 142 samples of Upper Pennsylvania fluvial, deltaic, and marine clays and shales from north Texas was determined by X-ray diffraction. Deltaic lithotypes are of moderate illite, subordinate kaolinite, minor vermiculite and mixed layer composition. Nonmarine (red bed, coaly shales) lithotypes range from this composition to highly (+90 per cent) kaolinitic types, and generally lack vermiculite or chlorite. The marine shales contain a clay-mineral suite which is very similar to that of deltaic beds, but usually contain poorly- to well-crystallized chlorite. These variations are interpreted as results of two opposing mechanisms of clay-mineral genesis: degradation and desilication of detrital clay-micas, and formation of kaolinite, in nonmarine milieux; and regrading of detrital vermiculite to better-crystalline chloritic minerals by magnesium adsorption in marine waters.
The study reveals three pertinent points about clay-mineral environmental relationships: The potential effects of nonmarine clay-mineral alteration processes are of much greater consequence than are those in marine environments. In this case, they led to the formation of beds in which the clay-mineral suite is almost all kaolinite, whereas the gross qualitative detrital clay-mineral suite was little changed in marine waters. The actual extent and effect of the clay-mineral formation processes is quite variable, so that there is considerable overlap in clay-mineral composition between nonmarine and deltaic deposits. “Trace” clay-mineral constituents may be more sensitive environmental indicators than the gross clay-mineral composition, in this case presence or absence and crystallinity of the chlorite-vermiculite component was the most diagnostic parameter.