Mineralogy and Genetic Relationships of Tonstein, Bentonite, and Lignitic Strata in the Eocene Yegua Formation of East-Central Texas

A. L. Senkayi, J. B. Dixon, L. R. Hossner, M. Abder-Ruhman and D. S. Fanning1
Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
1 Department of Agronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742

Abstract: A kaolinite-rich bed (tonstein) and an associated bentonite in the upper part of Yegua Formation at College Station, east-central Texas, were formed by in situ weathering processes in a late Eocene swamp. X-ray powder diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, petrographic studies, and scanning and transmission electron microscopy not only show that dioctahedral smectite and coarsely crystalline kaolinite are the dominant minerals in the bentonite and tonstein, respectively, but that cryptocrystalline halloysite and kaolinite are localized along the weathering front (transitional zone) between the tonstein and the bentonite. As weathering progressed, the cryptocrystalline minerals gradually recrystallized to yield the coarse books and vermicular growths of kaolinite characteristic of the tonstein.

Small amounts of cristobalite, sanidine, and euhedral zircon crystals with liquid or gaseous inclusions accord with the formation of the bentonite by alteration of volcanic ash. Clinoptilolite in the lignitic layer and sandstone below the bentonite probably formed from ions that were released during alteration of the volcanic materials to smectite, but clinoptilolite in the tonstein and overlying strata appear to have formed after kaolinization of the bentonite.

Key Words: Bentonite • Clinoptilolite • Kaolinite • Lignite • Smectite • Tonstein • Weathering

Clays and Clay Minerals; August 1984 v. 32; no. 4; p. 259-271; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1984.0320403
© 1984, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)