Middle Eocene bentonite in the North Carolina Coastal Plain and its relationship to the volcanic swarm in western Virginia
Published:August 12, 2020
W. Burleigh Harris, Paul A. Thayer*, 2020. "Middle Eocene bentonite in the North Carolina Coastal Plain and its relationship to the volcanic swarm in western Virginia", The Appalachian Geology of John M. Dennison: Rocks, People, and a Few Good Restaurants along the Way, Katharine Lee Avary, Kenneth O. Hasson, Richard J. Diecchio
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A local clay lens up to 60 cm thick in the Eocene Castle Hayne Limestone at the abandoned Fussell Quarry, Duplin County, North Carolina, is identified as a bentonite. It is composed of authigenic smectite with sparse euhedral biotite and apatite. Scanning electron microscope examination shows that the bentonite consists of relic bubble-wall shards altered to smectite. Smectitic columnules, rod-shaped casts of elongate pipe vesicles in pumice fragments derived from early dissolution of nearby small glass shards, also occur. This association is considered diagnostic of a silicic air-fall ash. K-Ar and Rb-Sr biotite dates from the bentonite are 46.2 ± 1.8 Ma and 45.7 ± 0.7 Ma, respectively, and a fission-track age of apatite is 51.0 ± 2.0 Ma; this later date is considered to be incorrect.
Biotite compositions determined from electron microprobe analyses on 100 crystals suggest derivation from a single volcanic source no more than 4000 km from the bentonite. Possible sources of the ash include Bermuda; Highland County, Virginia; and the Caribbean; however, because of distance, prevailing wind direction, and similarity in age and composition, the volcanic swarm in Highland County, Virginia, is the suggested source.
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The Appalachian Geology of John M. Dennison: Rocks, People, and a Few Good Restaurants along the Way
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Dr. John M. Dennison spent his career studying the Appalachians; teaching and mentoring his students and professional colleagues; publishing papers; leading field trips; and presenting ideas at regional, national, and international conferences. This volume is a collection of papers contributed by former students and colleagues to honor his memory. Topics include stratigraphy and paleontology ranging in age from Ordovician to Mississippian in Kentucky, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia; Devonian airfall tephras throughout the eastern United States; a Devonian lonestone; a Middle Eocene bentonite in North Carolina and its relationship to a volcanic swarm in western Virginia; and a 3D model of a ductile duplex in northwestern Georgia. The stratigraphic and geologic diversity of the papers reflects Dennison's many interests and collaborative relationships.