Abstract

Numerous manganese deposits in the Franciscan Complex, California, occur as conformable lenses within bedded radiolarian chert-argillite sequences that are, in turn, intercalated within thicker sections of sandstone and shale. The field relations, composition, and petro-graphic and isotopic characteristics indicate that the manganese was concentrated by diagenetic reconstitution of siliceous and hemipelagic sediment during burial. The ore lenses are Mn-rich and Fe-poor assemblages consisting largely of rhodochrosite, manganese silicates, opal-CT (disordered cristobalite-tridymite), and quartz. Highly negative δ13C values for the carbonate carbon in rhodochrosite indicate that CO2 likely originated from oxidation of methane; less negative values result from mixing of methanogenic carbon and CO2 derived from bacterial degradation of organic matter. The δ18O values for the carbonate of rhodochrosite indicate temperatures of formation between 12 and 100 °C. The oxidation of methane prior to carbonate precipitation may have used the minor (0.4%–0.5%) Mn and Fe oxyhydroxides and oxides deposited with the sediment. The mobilization of manganese from biogenic and terrigenous sources in the sediment column into discrete horizons and the fractioriation of manganese from iron reflect the presence of oxidation-reduction boundaries and gradients in the sediment column. Fluids derived from compaction and silica-dehydration reactions in the transformation of opal-A (X-ray amorphous biogenic silica) to quartz were involved in transportation of principal components. Sedimentary and geochemical attributes suggest that the deposits formed in a deep-water environment in a zone of oceanic upwelling near a continental margin.

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