Ore Geology Reviews, January 2016, Vol.72, pp.459-484
The kaolin-fan deposits under consideration are sedimentary in origin and they bridge the gap between residual kaolin deposits proximal to the fan apex in crystalline basement rocks and syn(dia)genetic sandstone-hosted kaolin deposits on the fan apron. The “kaolin ore beds” on the other hand, developed in an arenaceous braided-river drainage system (bed load 〉〉 suspended load deposits), reworking into secondary kaolin deposits that took place either intraformationally during the evolution of the kaolin fan deposits or epigenetically after unroofing of the kaolin deposits in high-sinuosity drainage systems passing, locally, into ephemeral lakes and mud flats (suspended load 〉 bed load deposits). The reference type for kaolin fan deposits has been studied in terrigeneous sediments which are largely mined at Hirschau–Schnaittenbach, along the Western edge of the Bohemian Massif, SE Germany. The fan deposits formed under alternating wet and dry subtropical climatic conditions during the early Triassic. Different intensities of uplift in the hinterland and the frequency of tectonic quiescence to tectonic pulse had a strong impact on the paleogradient, facies and hydrography of the kaolin fan deposits, resulting in the build-up of oxidized kaolin fans (OKF) and reduced kaolin fans (RKF). The OKF provide favorable conditions for the accumulation and preservation of kaolin deposits of economic potential, due to a low paleogradient and a continuous rate of uplift. The opposite is the case in the RKF that formed more proximal to the initial residual kaolin deposits and, more basinward, grade into sandstone-hosted (non)-sulfidic faciesbound Pb deposits that were targeted upon during exploration campaigns in the study area. The mineral association of the kaolin fan deposits has been categorized as follows: the allochthonous heavy minerals are zircon, tourmaline, apatite, monazite, xenotime, rutile, garnet, titaniferous magnetite, and ilmenite. They do not significantly vary between OKF and RKF. The autochthonous heavy minerals show strong contrasts in their heavy mineral suites. The RKF are enriched in sulfides and arsenides, which can be deleterious for the kaolin raw material and exclude its use for special final products (anatase, hematite, galena, sphalerite, marcasite, pyrite, bravoite (Ni pyrite), “limonite”, goethite, Ag–Cu–Ni–As sulfides, and barite). The OKF are rather poor in accessory minerals and contain anatase, hematite, and APS minerals. The latter are geo-acidometers (marker minerals for low pH) and considered as an ore guide to high-potential target areas for kaolin. The allochthonous light minerals quartz and K feldspar are common to both fan types and were only in parts affected by kaolinization, whereas plagioclase has been decomposed to completeness. Autochthonous light minerals quartz, chalcedony (carnelian), and calcite are exclusive to the RKF, where silcretes and calcretes evolved in those stratigraphic units which in the OKF only brought about Ca, Fe and Ti anomalies. The OKF have a significant edge over the RKF in terms of kaolin quality and kaolin exploitation (providing less mechanical wear on LHD [load–haul–dump machinery] machinery). Allochthonous phyllosilicates have a more widespread occurrence in the RKF with muscovite, biotite and chlorite most common in the lowermost kaolin beds. By quality there is not much difference among the autochthonous phyllosilicates of the OKF and RKF. Kaolinite-group minerals, illite, smectite, and an illite–smectite mixed-layer are present in both types, but kaolinite-group minerals prevail in the OKF, with a downward-increasing trend of dickite. By contrast the amount of smectite and smectite–illite mixed layers increases at the expense of kaolinite upward in the stratigraphy. The evolution of the kaolin fan deposits can be subdivided into six stages. Each stage is representative of a peculiar process which translates into concentration, preservation and destruction of kaolin: stage 1 weathering and the formation of a kaolin regolith (constructive), stage 2 transport, deposition synsedimentary to early-diagenetic kaolinization (constructive + preserving), stage 3 synsedimentary to early-diagenetic smectitization of kaolin (faciesbound Pb mineralization only in the RKF) (preserving + destructive), stage 4 late-diagenetic kaolinization and formation of dickite (preserving + constructive) (not in RKF), stage 5 epigenetic unconformity-related Cu–Ag–Ni–As–Ba mineralization (vaguely expressed in the OKF) (preserving), and stage 6 unroofing, erosion and redeposition of kaolin (only in the OKF) (destructive). During the study a PIMA device has proven in this type of kaolin deposit to be an efficacious tool for capturing digital data in the field of exploitation and exploration of industrial minerals for the identification and quantification of clay minerals (quality control).
Kaolin ; Fan Deposits ; Physical–Chemical Regime ; Sedimentological–Mineralogical Facies ; Mesozoic ; Se Germany ; Engineering ; Geology
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