The provenance of clays in shaley intervals across the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) in the Xiakou section was investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and the results suggest that the layers have three different provenances. The layer P267-b has a loose texture with an oriented arrangement of detrital clay particles, consisting mainly of illite and minor chlorite with irregular outlines or ragged edges. The dehydroxylation reaction of the clays in this layer is characterized by an intense overlapping endothermic effect at ~600°C, produced by mixed-layer illite-smectite (I-S) consisting of a mixture of cis-vacant (cv) and trans-vacant (tv) octahedral sheets derived from weathering of detrital illite. Layer P259-b shows a more condensed texture with a dark color, and is composed mainly of I-S and minor illite and chlorite. Evidence for alteration of detrital materials to clay mineral aggregates was observed under SEM. Similar to layer P267-b, an intense dehydroxylation reaction occurs at ~600°C, indicating clays consisting of a mixture of tv and cv sheets and, therefore, that the sediments were derived from a mixture of terrigenous and volcanic sources, combining the texture and the clay-mineral composition of those sediments. However, the undisturbed lamination and relatively small grain size in this bed indicate a low-energy depositional environment. The clay-mineral compositions of the other layers are mainly of I-S with minor amounts of illite and chlorite. Their endothermic dehydroxylation reaction, however, occurs mainly at ~660°C, indicating that cv sheets are dominant in the clays, and thus, are derived from smectites of volcanic origin. Observations by SEM show that clay minerals grow at the expense of detrital materials, confirming the diagenetic alteration of volcanic ashes in marine sediments. Illite and chlorite are the detrital clay minerals in the clay layers across the PTB in the Xiakou section. The presence of detrital illite and chlorite in the sediments means that an arid climate prevailed in the region during the end-Permian and early Triassic period.

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