Abstract

Bedded quartz cherts that contain recognizable diatoms are rare in the geologic record and are described here for the first time. The Eocene Andrew Lake Formation on Adak Island, Alaska consists of about 800 m of sedimentary and volcanogenic rocks. Quartz cherts containing diatoms occur in the upper part of the Andrew Lake Formation and crop out on the northern part of the island. The quartz chert formed at about 70 degrees C as determined by its oxygen isotopic composition. The diatoms were preserved in the chert because early and rapid alteration of ubiquitous volcanic glass in the section released silica and saturated the pore waters with respect to opal-A. Then, temperature rapidly increased with burial and the pore waters became undersaturated with respect to opal-A (biogenic silica), which occurred at a temperature greater than that needed to convert opal-CT to quartz. At this stage, delicate species of diatoms dissolved and quartz precipitated around the remaining more robust diatoms, forming diatom theft. Subsequently, grain-growth occurred and quartz replaced the frustules on a very fine scale.

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