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Back-reacted saponite in Jurassic mudstones and limestones intruded by a Tertiary sill, Isle of Skye

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Abstract:

The Lón Ostatoin stream section, Trotternish Peninsula, Isle of Skye, exposes a sequence of Middle Jurassic mudstones and limestones which have been locally metasomatized by a transgressive sill of Tertiary age. Limestones in the sequence, including some previously reported as bentonite, have been altered to an unusual assemblage of grossular garnet and saponite clay. The mudstones also contain large proportions of saponite together with pyroxene and zeolites. Saponite also occurs within the basalt intrusion. Grossular and pyroxene represent artifacts of relatively high-temperature assemblages that formed during an early phase of alteration. As the intrusion and adjacent altered country rocks cooled, lower-temperature fluids flowed through a late set of contraction (micro)fractures. Back-reacted saponite, analcime and clinoptilolite were formed, possibly as alteration products of the unstable higher-temperature minerals. The lower-temperature mineral assemblage eventually sealed the late fracture system.

This paper highlights an important concept for the study of analogue sites used to investigate thermal effects on engineered liners or barrier host rocks for the landfill and radioactive-waste industries. This is that the original thermally altered mineral assemblage may be overprinted by later, lower-temperature back-reactions. A detailed understanding of both processes is necessary in order to construct a sensible model for the thermal and mineralogical evolution of the site.

Keywords: ELECTRON MICROSCOPY; GEOCHEMISTRY; GROSSULAR; HYDROTHERMAL ALTERATION; INTRUSION; ISLE OF SKYE; LOCALIZED METASOMATISM; SAPONITE; X-RAY DIFFRACTION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1180/0009855054030171

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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