Abstract

Natural clay-sized glauconite has the same mineralogical composition as sand-sized glauconite pellets but occurs in <2 μm clay fractions. This particular glauconite habit has been described previously from soil environments resulting from pelletal weathering but is rarely reported in higher-energy sedimentary environments. In the present study, clay-sized glauconite was identified as a common constituent in transgressive Neogene glauconite pellet-rich deposits of the southern North Sea in Belgium. X-ray diffraction results revealed that the characteristics of the clay-sized glauconite are very similar to the associated glauconite pellets in sand deposits. Both glauconite types consisted of two glauconite-smectite R1 phases with generally small percentages of expandable layers (<30%) with d060 values ranging between 1.513 Å and 1.519 Å. Clay-sized glauconite was not neoformed but formed by the disintegration of sand-sized glauconite pellets which were abraded or broken up during short-distance transport within the sedimentary basin or over the hinterland. Even in an environment where authigenic glauconite pellets occur, minimal transport over transgressive surfaces is sufficient to produce clay-sized glauconite. Furthermore, clay-sized glauconite can be eroded from marine deposits and subsequently resedimented in estuarine deposits. Clay-sized glauconite is, therefore, a proxy for the transport intensity of pelletal glauconite in energetic depositional environments and, moreover, indicates reworking in such deposits which lack pelletal glauconite.

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