Kaolinite, Opal-CT, and Clinoptilolite in Altered Tuffs Interbedded with Lignite in the Jackson Group, Texas

A. L. Senkayi, D. W. Ming, J. B. Dixon and L. R. Hossner
Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843

Abstract: The mineralogy of partially kaolinized strata interbedded with lignite at the San Miguel mine, Atascosa County, Texas, was investigated by X-ray powder diffraction and optical and scanning electron microscopy. The San Miguel lignite occurs in the lower Jackson Group (late Eocene) of southern Texas. Based on mineralogical and micromorphological data, some of these clay partings are probably volcanic in origin and were exposed to variable degrees of in situ kaolinization in a swamp environment. Coexistence of kaolinite, clinoptilolite, and opal-CT in several of these strata suggests that the partially kaolinized volcanic layers were subjected to a subsequent resilication process following burial. Kaolinite is the dominant mineral in the oldest and most kaolinized volcanic layer (underclay) below the lowest lignite bed (seam D). The kaolinite exhibits a well-developed vermicular morphology. The youngest volcanic layer, which occurs stratigraphically above the uppermost lignite seam, is characterized by pseudomorphs of volcanic glass shards and consists mainly of clinoptilolite. Movement of siliceous ground water from this layer to the underlying strata apparently provided silica-rich solutions from which opal-CT and large (as long as 300 µm) euhedral crystals of clinoptilolite precipitated in the fossilized plant roots, veinlets, and fractures within the underlying strata. Micromorphological relationships between the Si-rich (opal-CT and clinoptilolite) and sulfide (marcasite and pyrite) minerals in the fossil roots and fractures suggest that the marcasite formed before and pyrite after the resilication process.

Key Words: Clinoptilolite • Kaolinite • Lignite • Marcasite • Opal-CT • Plant roots • Pyrite • Silication • Zeolite

Clays and Clay Minerals; August 1987 v. 35; no. 4; p. 281-290; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1987.0350405
© 1987, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)