Abstract

Ferromanganese-oxide deposits dredged from four seamounts (Welker, Miller, Murray, and Patton) in the Gulf of Alaska Seamount Province include poorly crystallized microlaminated crusts on basalt substrate, well-crystallized Mn-oxide veins in epiclastic sedimentary rocks, and crystalline Mn-oxide layers and micronodules in phosphorite. The principal rock types dredged are alkali-basalt pillow fragments and tuffaceous conglomerate and sandstone. The glassy rims of pillow fragments, the glassy goundmass of large volcanic clasts, and the tuffaceous component of the sediment are altered to palagonite. Other low-temperature alteration products include phillipsite, smectite, and carbonate-apatite.Thick (10–50 mm) Fe–Mn crusts consist mainly of δ-MnO2; straight and cuspate growth laminae indicate variable growth rates and periods of nondeposition. A larger number of detrital particles toward the top of thick crusts record the increasing influence of active volcanoes of the Aleutian arc during northwestward movement of the Pacific plate. Thick crusts on basalt substrate have higher Mn/Fe ratios and lower Co content than Fe–Mn crusts from low-latitude seamounts of the central Pacific region. Thin (< 10 mm) crusts on volcaniclastic substrate contain todorokite and birnessite and have higher Mn/Fe ratios, Ni, and Cu and lower Fe and Co than thick Gulf of Alaska crusts.Veins of todorokite and cryptomelane with complex internal structure occur in altered tuffaceous sandstone and conglomerate from Miller Seamount. Fibrous todorokite has a composition similar to those of other marine examples but may contain up to 7% Mn2+ in M2 sites. Microprobe analysis of the marine cryptomelane indicates a composition that is approximately (K,Ba)1–2(Mn4+,Co)7–8O16x(H2O).A third type of Fe–Mn deposit in phosphorite is an intimate mixture of todorokite (and minor δ-MnO2)-bearing layers and micronodules, carbonate-apatite, and phillipsite that encloses grains of altered volcanic glass and lithic fragments.The microlaminated structure, mineralogy (predominantly δ-MnO2), and composition (Mn/Fe ratio and transition metal, rare earth element, U, and Th contents) of the thick crusts are characteristic of hydrogenetic Fe–Mn crusts elsewhere in the Pacific. Conversely, the crystallinity and chemical composition of the Mn-oxide veins and thin crusts indicate formation during diagenesis of the volcanogenic sediment substrate. Mn and other transition metals are mobilized during low-temperature oxidative alteration (palagonitization) of basaltic volcanic glass; the oxidation of Fe2+ to Fe3+ during palagonitization and the dissolution of the dilute biogenic fraction of the sediment combine to lower the Eh of ambient pore fluid and enhance the mobility of Mn2+. Diagenesis in the phosphatic sandstone from Patton Seamount involves organic-rich sediment and pore waters elevated in phosphorus owing to upwelling above a large volcanic edifice.

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