Clay Minerals and Oceanic Evolution

Robert C. Harriss*
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
* Present address: Geology Department, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract: A review of mineralogical and geochemical studies on Recent sediments indicates that the clay fraction of marine sediments is not in isotopic or chemical equilibrium with the oceanic reservoir and will not reflect the chemical environment of deposition. Consideration of the sedimentary geochemistry of the alkali metals suggests that fractionation of these elements, which may be one of the major features of the chemical evolution of ocean water, occurs in the terrestrial weathering environment during the formation of clay minerals and in the subsurface environment during clay mineral diagenesis. It is proposed that during the initial stages of oceanic development the Na/K ratio of ocean water was adjusted to a value of forty to fifty by the extensive diagenesis of the existing natural water. With an increase in oceanic volume and a major change in the hydrologic cycling of natural waters the chemical evolution of alkali metals in ocean water has now become primarily controlled by mixing with continental drainage water.

Clays and Clay Minerals; 1967 v. 15; no. 1; p. 207-214; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1967.0150125
© 1967, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)