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Open AccessArticle

Mineralogical and Geochemical Characteristics of Triassic Lithium-Rich K-Bentonite Deposits in Xiejiacao Section, South China

1
MNR Key Laboratory of Saline Lake Resources and Environments, Institute of Mineral Resources, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing 100037, China
2
Asian School of the Environment, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 639798, Singapore
3
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2020, 10(1), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10010069
Received: 12 August 2019 / Revised: 31 December 2019 / Accepted: 7 January 2020 / Published: 16 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution of Li-rich Brines)
Widespread alteration in the Early–Middle Triassic volcanic ash of the Xiejiacao section, south China, has resulted in significant occurrences of lithium-rich K-bentonite deposits with economic potential. Detailed mineralogical and geochemical investigations of Li-rich K-bentonite deposits from the Xiejiacao section of Guangan city, South China, are presented here. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) data and major element chemistry indicates that the Li-rich K-bentonite deposits contain quartz, clay minerals, feldspar, calcite and dolomite, and the clay minerals are dominated by illite and ordered (R3) illite/smectite (I/S). The concentrations of major and trace elements in Li-rich K-bentonite deposits altered from volcanic ashes are most likely derived from felsic magmas, associated with intense volcanic arc activity. The composition of the clay components suggests that the Li-rich K-bentonite deposits are probably altered from the smectite during diagenesis, whereas smectite is mainly formed by submarine alterations of volcanic materials and subsequently the I/S derived from the volcanogenic smectite illitization. Moreover, accurate determination of the structure in I/S reveals that the temperatures reached by the sedimentary series are around 180 °C with a burial depth of ~6000 m. The widely distributed lithium-rich clay deposits strongly indicate widespread eruptions of volcanic ashes in the Early–Middle Triassic, which released huge amounts of volcanic ash. Lithium fixed in the illite and I/S is considered to have leached from the volcanogenic products by a mixed fluid source (i.e., meteoric, porewater and hydrothermal fluids). These Li-rich clay minerals in the marine basin contain economically extractable levels of metal and are a promising new target for lithium exploration. View Full-Text
Keywords: Li-rich K-bentonite deposits; geochemistry; mineralogy; Early–Middle Triassic; South China Li-rich K-bentonite deposits; geochemistry; mineralogy; Early–Middle Triassic; South China
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Lin, Y.; Zheng, M.; Zhang, Y.; Xing, E.; Redfern, S.A.T.; Xu, J.; Zhong, J.; Niu, X. Mineralogical and Geochemical Characteristics of Triassic Lithium-Rich K-Bentonite Deposits in Xiejiacao Section, South China. Minerals 2020, 10, 69.

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