Prograde Transitions of Corrensite and Chlorite in Low-Grade Pelitic Rocks from the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec1

Wei-Teh Jiang2 and Donald R. Peacor
Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1063
1 Contribution No. XXX from the Mineralogical Laboratory, Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1063.
2 Present address: Department of Geology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-1404.

Abstract: A prograde sequence of corrensite and chlorite in pelitic rocks of the diagenetic zone, anchizone, and epizone (illite crystallinity indices = 0.17–0.58°Δ2θ) of the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec, was studied by analytical and transmission electron microscopy (AEM and TEM). The data collectively suggest that diagenesis/metamorphism of chlorite and corrensite follows a sequence of phase transitions, compositional homogenization, and recrystallization, approaching a state of equilibrium for which chlorite is the stable phase.

Corrensite occurs as coalescing, wavy packets of layers intergrown with chlorite and illite in the diagenetic and low-grade anchizonal rocks. Intergrowths of discrete chlorite and corrensite crystals, interstratified packets of chlorite and corrensite layers, terminations of smectite-like layers by chlorite layers, and 2–3 repeats of R2- and R3-ordered chlorite-smectite mixed layers occur. These materials are alteration products of detrital biotite or other precursor phases like trioctahedral smectite. The crystal size and proportion of corrensite decrease significantly from the diagenetic zone to the anchizone. Deformed corrensite is crosscut by straight packets of chlorite and corrensite in the diagenetic sample. Some chlorite occurs as discrete, euhedral to subhedral crystals intergrown with or enclosed by other phases in the absence of corrensite. The crystal size of chlorite and definition of crystal boundaries increase whereas density of crystal imperfections and randomness in orientation decrease with increase in grade of diagenesis/metamorphism. Crystals that are kinked or bent, or display gliding along (001) form low-angle boundaries with relatively defect-free crystals, implying deformation during crystal growth. Abundant well-defined low-angle boundaries associated with dislocations are observed in the higher grade rocks, consistent with a stage of readjustment of crystal boundaries during crystal growth. The AEM analyses show that the corrensite has lower Fe/(Mg + Fe) and Al/(Si + Al) than the coexisting chlorite in the diagenetic sample, and that the ranges of composition of chlorite of different grades overlap and become smaller with increasing grade, implying prograde homogenization.

The data imply that corrensite is a unique phase that is metastable relative to chlorite: its conversion to chlorite occurred at a grade as low as that of the high-grade diagenetic zone. The textural relations suggest that the metamorphic crystallization and recrystallization were coeval with deformation processes due to tectonism, partially modified by subsequent contact metamorphism. The data, combined with those of previous reports, suggest that the Gaspé Ordovician rocks constitute a part of a regional distribution of trioctahedral phyllosilicate-rich rocks in the northern Appalachians. The regional occurrence of abundant chloritic minerals is thus directly related to a specific tectonic regime with precursor sediments largely derived from an andesitic arc system(s).

Key Words: Analytical electron microscopy • Chlorite • Chlorite crystallinity • Corrensite • Diagenesis • Gaspé Peninsula • Sediment provenance • Syntectonic deformation • Transmission electron microscopy

Clays and Clay Minerals; October 1994 v. 42; no. 5; p. 497-517; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1994.0420501
© 1994, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)