Flint Clay by Hydrothermal Alteration of Sedimentary Rock in Mexico

Robert F. Hanson* and W. D. Keller
* Refractarios A. P. Green, S. A., Mexico, D. F.
Present address: University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33620.

Abstract: This paper documents the first report of flint clay in Mexico, located at Estola, Guerrero, 199 km south of Mexico City, on Mexico Highway 95. It is the first report (known to the writers) of flint clay formed by hydrothermal alteration. It describes the in-situ alteration of a calcareous, silty shale to flint clay (well-ordered kaolinite).

The changes during alteration are mineralogical, chemical, and structural. Calcite, comprising about one-third of the shale, quartz and probably some feldspar comprising a scant third, and a mixture of greenish-yellow (limonitic) clay minerals are dissolved or altered ultimately to white kaolinite (monomineralic). Calcium carbonate, free and combined silica, and iron compounds are dissolved, while simultaneously the alumina is relatively enriched. The fissility, inequigraularity, and cementitous fabric of shale are changed to the massively homogeneous, finegrained, interlocking fabric that is typical of flint clay.

The sequence of changes, which overlap, are; (1) dissolution of carbonate minerals, (2) mobility of iron, replacement of quartz and feldspar by kaolinite; and (3) intensive “digestion” of rock substance to homogeneous, essentially monomineralic, kaolinite flint clay. Alunite, and secondary vein-calcite or gypsum may accompany the flint clay.

This occurrence lends support to the concent that flint clay is formed from presumably only sedimentary parent rock.

Clays and Clay Minerals; June 1971 v. 19; no. 2; p. 115-119; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1971.0190208
© 1971, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)