Origin of Berthierine in Ironstones

Deba P. Bhattacharyya
Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 63130

Abstract: To test the hypothesis that berthierine in oolitic ironstones formed by diagenetic transformation of detrital kaolinite, laboratory experiments simulating the early diagenetic conditions were conducted. Representative sets of the initial sediment were prepared in distilled water and artificial seawater suspensions by mixing 4–13 g/liter kaolinite with Fe(OH)3 precipitated from 0.1–0.3 M FeCl3 solutions. Na2S2O4 was added to the suspensions as a reducing agent, and inert N2 atmospheres were used to maintain the required Eh between + 100 and −400 mV. The pH of the suspensions was controlled between 8 and 5 with dilute HCl. Within 300 days, the iron content of the bulk kaolinite in the seawater suspensions progressively increased from 0.18 to 2.44% at pH = 7 and Eh between −250 and −350 mV. Energy dispersive X-ray analyses of individual clay platelets in the final products showed progressive, temporal increase in Fe, and concomitant decrease in Al and Si. X-ray powder diffractometry revealed small d(001)–d(002) shifts, marked intensity reversals of (001) and (002) reflections, and the development of additional characteristic berthierine reflections with time. These data suggest progressive transformation of kaolinite to berthierine. Microprobe analyses of natural berthierine in oolitic ironstones also showed parallel patterns, which substantiate such progressive transformation from the margin toward the core of the ooids. The transformation did not take place in distilled water. The addition of Mg2+ to the distilled water suspensions, however, promoted the transformation.

Key Words: Bethierine • Diagnesis • Ironstone • Kaolitinite • Synthesis

Clays and Clay Minerals; June 1983 v. 31; no. 3; p. 173-182; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1983.0310302
© 1983, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)