Comparative influence of burial depth on the clay mineral assemblage of the Agadir-Essaouira basin (western High Atlas, Morocco)

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Abstract:

In the western High Atlas basin, the evolution of the clay assemblage of the Upper Jurassic–Cretaceous sedimentary series is controlled by palaeogeographic changes of the basin and by burial diagenesis. The effects of burial are expressed by an increase in the proportions of illite and chlorite with depth, a decrease of expandability of smectite minerals and by a decrease in the Kübler Index. Kaolinite is preserved at greater depths than smectite, but also tends to diminish in abundance. TEM observations show that idiomorphic pseudo-hexagonal crystals of illite increase in size and abundance downwards, especially in the sandy levels. In the Agadir section, the main change in the clay mineral evolution related to late diagenesis occurs at the Mid-Albian, corresponding to a burial depth of about 1800 m; in the Essaouira section it occurs at the Lower Tithonian at a burial depth of about 2100 m. Considering the different geothermal gradient between Agadir (36°C km−1) and Essaouira (27°C km−1), the disappearance of smectite occurs at the same temperature in these two sites (60 to 65°C).
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