Abstract

The influence of hydrological conditions and the pH of the environment on chlorite and mica transformations in the acidic weathering zone of pyrite-bearing schists was studied. Phyllosilicate transformations were investigated in the area of the abandoned pyrite open-pit mine in Wieściszowice (Lower Silesia, SW Poland) using X-ray diffractometry (XRD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and chemical methods. (Mg,Fe)-chlorite, micas (muscovite and paragonite), quartz, feldspars and pyrite were reported to be the most abundant minerals occurring in pyrite-bearing schists. Phyllosilicate transformations were significantly stronger in dry conditions than in wet ones. This conclusion was supported by the fact that the inherited phyllosilicates predominated in the clay mineral fraction of waterlogged saprolites, whereas the secondary swelling minerals were minor components. In dry and extremely acidic saprolites (pH < 3), trioctahedral chlorite was dissolved and transformed into clay minerals (e.g. smectite and kaolinite), whereas swelling clays (smectite mainly) were formed at the expense of dioctahedral micas. The pH of water is an important factor influencing phyllosilicate transformations in waterlogged conditions. The phyllosilicate alterations under the influence of extremely acidic waters (pH < 3) were more advanced than in moderately acidic ones (pH of 4.6), as the secondary clay minerals seemed to be represented exclusively by smectite in the former, whereas HIMs and mixed-layer minerals such as R0 I-S-Ch, R0 I-S, as well as R1 Ch-V and/or R1 Ch-S occurred in the latter.

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