Abstract

This paper describes a rare occurrence of nontronite associated with sulfide-bearing felsic metavolcanics, providing evidence of colloidal deposition in open spaces as result of a low-temperature water-rock interaction. Microbotryoidal masses of green nontronite with impurities of kaolinite, illite, barite, amorphous silica and iron oxyhydroxides are found as vein and cavity fillings in deeply kaolinized rhyolites and rhyolitic tuffs of Precambrian age, at Oliva de Mérida in SW Spain. Clay mineral characterization has been carried out by X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, thermal analysis, analytical electron microscopy and stable isotope (oxygen and hydrogen) analysis. Nontronite was formed under low-temperature alteration conditions, from a continuous sequence of reactions and aqueous solution compositions, involving two basic processes that acted in concert: oxidative dissolution of pyrite and hydrolysis of K-feldspar. After acidity neutralization, dissolved silica released by incongruent dissolution of K-feldspar reacted with ferric sulfate derived from pyrite oxidation to form nontronite under oxidizing conditions, in the presence of relatively warm meteoric water.

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