Chemical alteration in the micro weathering environment within a spheroidally-weathered anorthosite boulder
A chemical and mineralogical study of the innermost rindlets of a spheroidally weathered boulder from the Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma details incipient alteration of minerals along solution channels. Alteration products in plagioclase areas are highly aluminous, whereas ferruginous residuum is commonly found in olivine alteration zones. Alteration of plagioclase along solution channels results in sharp weathering contacts as contrasted with wider zones of "limonite" bordering solution channels in olivine. In certain instances, cores of fresh olivine are surrounded by limonite indicating that diffusion may play a role in this type of alteration. Mobility of sesquioxides is evidenced by aluminum-rich debris adjacent to mafic materials in solution channels and iron-bearing material in channels cutting through plagioclase. Not resolved is whether the movement of sesquioxides in solution channels is by transport of colloidal particulates or by diffusion of dissolved species. Calcic plagioclase alters to calcite along the innermost solution channel. It is postulated that solution, exterior to the boulder and undersaturated with respect to calcite, enters the rind system via solution channels. Cut off from the CO 2 reservoir of the atmosphere by the narrow confines of this solution channel, the solution reacts with the bytownite to precipitate calcite. Apart from the occurrence of calcite, no crystalline weathering products were found in the innermost rindlet samples. A poorly crystallized illite was identified in the outermost rindlet. These findings suggest that initial alteration products on weathering rinds are amorphous and that, with time, these products attain a degree of identifiable crystallinity.