Morphological and Chemical Features of Bioweathered Granitic Biotite Induced by Lichen Activity

Jacek Wierzchos and Carmen Ascaso
Centro de Ciencias Medioambientales, CSIC, Serrano 115 dpdo., 28006 Madrid, Spain
Servicio de Microscópia Electrónica, Universitat de Lleida, Rovira Roure 44, 25196 Lleida, Spain

Abstract: To study the physico-chemical activity of lichens on micaceous components of granitic rocks, samples covered by thalli of Parmelia conspersa (Ehrht) Ach. and Aspicilia intermutans (Nyl.) Arn. were collected and examined with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) equipped with a Back Scattered Electron (BSE) detector and an Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) microanalytical system. The bio- physical activity of both lichen species leads to a deep alteration of biotite, which results in detachment, separation and exfoliation of biotite plates. Chemically, the bioweathering process of biotite in the lichen- mineral contact zone involves considerable depletion of potassium (K) from interlayer positions in biotite and removal of several elements, corresponding to a 9.7% loss in matter. The sequence of the loss of elements is: K+ ≫ Fetot > Ti4+ ≅ Mg2+. There are also some gains in the order: Ca2+ > Na+ ≫ Al3+ > Si4+ attributed to dissolution of co-existing Ca and Na rich minerals. Geochemical mass balance results suggest the transformation of K-rich biotite to scarcely altered biotite interstratified with a biotite-vermiculite intermediate phase in the lichen bioweathered contact zones.

Key Words: Aspicilia intermutans • Biotite • Bioweathering • Granite • Lichens • Parmelia conspersa

Clays and Clay Minerals; October 1996 v. 44; no. 5; p. 652-657; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1996.0440507
© 1996, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)