Scan Electron Micrographs of Kaolins Collected from Diverse Environments of Origin—IV. Georgia Kaolin and Kaolinizing Source Rocks

W. D. Keller
Geology Department, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65201, U.S.A.

Abstract: Scan electron micrographs (SEMs), are shown of three representative types of Georgia kaolin: ‘soft’, Cretaceous-age clay; ‘hard’, fine-grained clay; and ‘flint kaolin’.

Sparta Granite and a thick deposit of its overlying saprolite are taken to serve as examples of probable source rock for Georgia kaolin. SEMs are presented to show sequential argillation of this fresh granite through a transition zone to the saprolite. The saprolite contains abundant books of kaolinite similar to those occurring in Cretaceous kaolin, accompanied by some elongates, whereas in the transition zone elongates are predominant. A morphologic type of fibrous, elongate 1:1 clay mineral, hitherto not illustrated, is shown from kaolinizing Sparta Granite, and from Pre-Cambrian saprolitic gneiss 25 km south of Athens, GA.

Whereas kaolin elongates originated in contact with feldspar in the Sparta transition zone, well-formed books of kaolinite are shown to have been formed in contact with feldspar in the saprolite from a Missouri granite. The arkose above the granite in the Missouri occurrence has altered to loosely packed books of kaolinite. The interpretation is made that book-type kaolinite, where it occurs in large deposits of saprolite or kaolin, was formed under geochemical conditions of relative chemical stability between kaolinite and feldspar, as might prevail in a geological ‘weathering crust’. It is interpreted that elongate kaolin morphology may be formed under conditions of limited or lesser geochemical stability.

SEMs show that the established book-morphology of Sparta saprolite is disarranged during secondary Holocene surface weathering and pedogenic processing.

SEMs show that books of kaolinite, although individually fragile, may be protected from destruction or delamination during artificial blunging and transport when moved within naturally coalesced pellets. Possibly original books of weathered kaolinite might similarly survive natural stream transport during sedimentational processes.

Some ‘flint kaolin’ contains molds of sponge spicules coated with low-cristobalite.

Clays and Clay Minerals; October 1977 v. 25; no. 5; p. 311-345; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1977.0250501
© 1977, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)