Abstract

Halloysite and kaolinite occur in gneissic weathering profiles developed under a temperate climate in the Leucogia area of NE Greece. X-ray diffraction analyses of samples from three profiles of partially weathered gneisses have revealed that kaolinite becomes more abundant than halloysite with increasing intensity of the decomposition processes. To resolve the genetic relationship between halloysite and kaolinite, microtextures were examined by scanning electron microscopy using polished thin-sections and freshly exposed fracture surfaces, and their chemical compositions were determined using an analytical scanning electron microscope fitted with energy dispersive and wavelength dispersive spectrometers. Different morphological forms of halloysite and kaolinite were detected within the same rock mass. In the earliest stage of weathering, spheroidal aggregates consisting of microcrystalline halloysite are formed on the plagioclase surface. With progressive weathering, spheroidal halloysite converts to tubular halloysite. As weathering advances, tubular halloysite converts to platy halloysite, which in turn converts to kaolinite. Halloysite and kaolinite may coexist in the upper parts of the profiles. Electron microprobe analyses of spheroidal, tubular and platy halloysite and kaolinite show that the chemical composition of the various forms indicate a progressive Fe enrichment and Al depletion with advancing kaolinization, from VIFe0.08VIAl3.70 a.p.f.u. in spheroidal halloysite through VIFe0.29VIAl3.50 in platy halloysite to VIFe0.53VIAl3.32 in newly formed kaolinite. Final-stage, book-type kaolinite approaches its ideal chemical composition (VIFe0.04VIAl3.95). The mineralogy and composition of the kaolin minerals and the development of the various morphological forms of halloysite and kaolinite in different parts of the profiles are attributed to the chemistry of the ambient solutions. However, other physical and microenvironmental conditions (e.g. time and space available) also seem to have strong influence on the precipitation processes producing the morphological variations.

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