Abstract

Sandstones and shales of the Wilcox Group (lower Eocene) in southwest Texas were examined by X-ray powder diffraction, electron microprobe, and petrographically to interpret their diagenetic history. Samples analyzed are from depths of 975 to 4650 m, representing a temperature range of 55 degrees C to 210 degrees C. No consistent trend of depositional environments is recognized with increasing depth, and mineralogic changes observed are interpreted as diagenetic. Major mineral distribution patterns are (1) disappearance of discrete smectite at temperatures >70 degrees C, (2) gradation of mixed-layer illite/smectite to less expandable (more illitic) illite/smectite over the entire temperature range, (3) disappearance of kaolinite from 150-200 degrees C accompanied by an increase in chlorite, and (4) replacement of calcite cement at about 117 120 degrees C by ankerite. Calculations based on data of Hower and others (1976) indicate that the stability of smectite layers may be a function of composition. Smectites with high ratios of octahedral (Fe + Mg)/Al appear to resist conversion to illite until temperatures high enough to produce ordering are attained. A diagenetic model is proposed which involves the breakdown of detrital K-feldspar and of some smectite layers in illite/smectite to convert other smectite layers to illite. Silica and calcium released by the illitization of smectite is transferred from shales to sandstones to produce quartz overgrowths and calcite cements at temperatures as low as 60 degrees C. Iron and magnesium released by the illitization reaction are transferred from shales to sandstones at temperatures >100 degrees C and react with kaolinite to produce high-alumina chlorite and/or with calcite to produce ankerite.

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