Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results, Vol. 102. Published by the Ocean Drilling Program, Texas A & M University, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc."


During Ocean Drilling Program Leg 102, the Schlumberger natural gamma-ray spectrometry tool measured high potassium levels in one interval of DSDP Hole 418A basalts. Samples from that hole were examined by X-ray diffraction, SEM, and EDS analyses in order to identify mineral species responsible for the high readings. The results indicate that high K readings observed on wireline logs run in basement can be attributed to extensive low-temperature oxidative alteration resulting in formation of palagonite and K-rich clays (celadonite, potassic nontronite, and mixed-layer celadonite/ nontronite). Where these readings are accompanied by high porosity, low density, and low velocity readings, a breccia with a once-glassy matrix, now altered to K-rich clay, may be inferred. Where porosity, density, and velocity readings indicate no breccia, high K readings may be attributed to potassium feldspar, an indicator of a second stage of oxidative alteration. In either case, there is a significant contribution to the K readings from palagonite.
Further results of this study indicate a continuous fluid evolution and secondary mineral formation in these basalts. An initial stage of oxidation and formation of iron oxide-hydroxides was followed by precipitation of K-rich clay minerals. The first clays to form may have been celadonite, mixed-layer celadonite/nontronite, or potassic nontronite. As the fluid evolved, the minerals formed were increasingly depleted in K and ferric iron and increasingly enriched in Mg, Al, Ca, and ferrous iron. The final phase was an iron-rich saponite. In at least one interval with high permeability, a second stage of oxidative alteration resulting from the influx of a new fluid is demonstrated by the alteration of saponite to iddingsite (saponite + goethite). Potassium feldspar is associated with this zone and is believed to have formed with the second stage of oxidative alteration.