Clay Mineral Formation in Sea Water by Submarine Weathering of K-Feldspar

R. W. Rex and B. D. Martin*
Chevron Research Company, La Habra, California and U.S. Navy Oceanographic Office, Washington, D.C.
* Present address: Dept. Water Resources, Annapolis Maryland.

Abstract: A suite of granodiorite samples was collected by dredging from depths of about 1000 m from the walls of Carmel and Monterey submarine canyons, Monterey Bay, California. One surface of each of the various granodiorite slabs was weathered and encrusted with marine organisms. The weathering is maximum at the surface and penetrates to a depth of about 20 cm and selectively alters the feldspars to clay. Potassium feldspars are most severely altered. Mineral selective attack, shallow depth of weathering, restriction of biological growth to weathered surfaces, and regional geological setting are interpreted to mean that the samples were broken from bedrock and that this granodiorite probably weathered in the marine environment.

Authigenic clays formed as a result of the submarine weathering of the granodiorite are kaolinite, K-mica, montmorillonite, and halloysite.

These data suggest that the assemblage K-mica, montmorillonite, and kaolinite have a phase join that may lie on or close to the composition of sea water. Furthermore, kaolinite may be unstable in sea water and gradually break up to form halloysite tubes. The possible influence of biologic agents is suggested in the formation of marine halloysite.

Clays and Clay Minerals; 1966 v. 14; no. 1; p. 235-240; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1966.0140120
© 1966, The Clay Minerals Society
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