The mineralogy and geochemistry of the clay fraction of Victoria Land Basin (Ross Sea, Antarctica) sediments was investigated, to determine the origin of clay minerals and the features of authigenic smectite. The investigated core (CRP-3) is ~800 m long, mostly of Oligocene age. The clay fraction of the upper sequence consists of mica, chlorite and detrital smectite, while that of the central and lower part is largely made up of authigenic smectite. Authigenic smectites are ditrioctahedral, with a composition close to saponite, while detrital smectites such as Al-Fe beidellites are dioctahedral. Authigenic smectites have no illite mixed layers, show a higher degree of crystallization, higher MgO, Fe2O3, V, Cr, Co, Ni and Sc contents and lower SiO2, Al2O3, K2O, TiO2, Ba, Rb and Zr contents with respect to detrital clay minerals, and a clear depletion of LREE with respect to HREE. Authigenic smectite formed from the alteration of volcanic materials and clay minerals.

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