REPORT OF AN ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEVELOPMENT OF DISSOLUTION VOIDS IN PETROCALCIC MATERIALS AT MORMON MESA, NEVADA
An initial hypothesis stated that the formation of these dissolution features involved a magnesium under-saturated meteoric solution that preferentially dissolved magnesium-rich matrix and clast materials. To test this hypothesis, nine samples from the three soil profiles were analyzed for chemical composition with ICP. Three powdered samples were extracted with a Dremel tool from each profile. The sample sites included an altered part of a clast, the unaltered portion of the same clast, and material from the matrix above the altered clasts. We expected to see an elevated concentration of Mg in the matrix materials that displayed vertical voids and a decrease in Mg concentration in the altered clast materials when compared to the unaltered dolomitic limestone gravels.
Preliminary results show no elevated Mg concentrations in the matrix containing dissolution voids, nor is there a significant difference in Mg content from the altered and unaltered clast materials. However, there is notable elevated Ba in the altered sections of the clasts, which poses new questions as to the products and processes of alteration. Continued research into the formation of these unique dissolution features includes full XRD and additional ICP analyses, and examination of SEM data to test additional hypotheses on the formation of these unique dissolution features.