Abstract

Authigenic chlorite, occurring as grain coatings, pore fillings, and rosettes, is common in deltaic sandstones of the lower Vicksburg Formation in South Texas. Chlorite rosettes are isolated and occur late in the diagenetic history, whereas grain-coating and pore-filling chlorite occur early, predating the development of secondary porosity and the precipitation of quartz overgrowths and Fe-poor calcite. Grain-coating and pore-filling chlorite, which are interstratified with approximately 15 percent 7 Å layers, are Fe-rich with a mean Fe/(Fe+Mg) ratio of 0.68. Stable-isotope data (δ18O averages 13.5‰ (SMOW)) indicate that the grain-coating and pore-filling chlorite began precipitating between 20°C to 40°C within the upper 1.8 km (6000 ft) of burial.

Sandstones of the lower Vicksburg Formation were deposited in a relatively shallow deltaic environment as part of a large fluvial system draining the volcanics of Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico and Trans Pecos, Texas. Weathering of these volcanics brought large amounts of particulate Fe to the river mouth. An increase in salinity in the distributary channel complex caused Fe flocculation and deposition. During periods of high river discharge, or when coastal currents acted to concentrate particulate Fe, large amounts of particulate Fe were deposited in the delta system. This resulted in thick layers of Fe-rich clay (odinite?) around grains. During periods of low river discharge, or when coastal currents caused wide distribution of particulate Fe, less particulate Fe was deposited. It is proposed that the grain-coating and pore-filling chlorite began forming through the transformation of an Fe-rich clay precursor in the formation-water hydropressure zone following Ostwald processes. The presence of this synsedimentary Fe-rich clay, and its recrystallization to Fe-chlorite, strongly influenced fluid flow and played a large role in developing the diagenetic heterogeneity seen in lower Vicksburg sandstones today.

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