2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 292-4
Presentation Time: 8:55 AM

THE ACACIA PROJECT: ANCIENT CLIMATE AND THE AUTHIGENIC CLAY INDEX OF ARIDITY


DEOCAMPO, Daniel M.1, ASHLEY, Gail M.2, CUADROS, Javier3, DELANEY, Jeremy S.4, LONGSTAFFE, Fred J.5, ELLIOTT, W. Crawford6, KREKELER, Mark P.S.7 and RABIDEAUX, Nathan6, (1)Geosciences, Georgia State University, 24 Peachtree Center Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30303, (2)Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854, (3)Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, United Kingdom, (4)Earth & Planetary Sciences/ Chemistry, Rutgers University, 610 Taylor Rd, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ 08854, (5)Department of Earth Sciences, The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, Biological and Geological Sciences Building, London, ON N6A 5B7, Canada, (6)Department of Geosciences, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, (7)Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science, Miami University-Hamilton, Hamilton, OH 45011, deocampo@gsu.edu

Lacustrine clay minerals precipitated from water or through alteration of detritus are important components of chemical sediments in saline, alkaline basins with high silica activity. Such sediments are typically overwhelmed by detrital or biogenic deposition, but in some basins, generally underfilled lacustrine systems, lacustrine clays comprise a significant proportion of the sediment. We are now engaged in a new effort to elucidate the controls, constraints, and paleoenvironmental implications of lacustrine authigenic clay formation. This will inform ongoing international efforts such as the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project, the Olorgesailie Drilling Project, El Proyecto Olduvai, and others.

In general, lacustrine clays are derived from weathering products generated in upland soils. In evaporative basins, Al- or Fe-rich soil-derived clays are transported basinward, where they may react with saline, alkaline waters. Depending on fluid chemistry, this may induce either precipitation of new Mg-rich silicates, or Mg enrichment in octahedral sheets of pre-existing clays, or some combination. Crystallography and geochemistry can reveal multiple authigenic phases of variable octahedral compositions, and crystal water may undergo isotopic exchange with evaporatively enriched waters. Ultimately, the bulk geochemical signal carried by the clays is the product of the abundance and Mg content of the authigenic clay mineral phases.

To better understand these processes, the ACACIA Project is studying the elemental and isotopic geochemistry, and mineralogy, of clays from Pleistocene deposits of the Olduvai Gorge and the Olorgesailie Basin, a number of modern depositional systems in East Africa, and core samples from several collaborating drilling projects. The project began in 2014, and has preliminary analyses of clays from the Magadi, Olorgesailie, Olduvai, Turkana, and Baringo Basins. One preliminary finding from modern Lake Magadi is that early loss of aqueous Mg when dilute inflow meets evolved brines may prevent the formation of such minerals in the basin center. Therefore authigenic silicate assemblages from the most extreme saline and alkaline lakes may lack Mg-rich silicates.