Diagenetic origin of ironstone crusts in the Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation, Bahariya Depression, Western Desert, Egypt

Diagenetic origin of ironstone crusts in the Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation, Bahariya Depression, Western Desert, Egypt

Author: 
Afify, A.M.
Publisher: 
Elsevier
Date published: 
2015
Record type: 
Responsibility: 
Sanz-Montero, M.E., jt. author
Calvo, J.P., jt. author
Wanas, H.A., jt. author
Journal Title: 
Journal of African Earth Sciences
Source: 
Journal of African Earth Sciences, Vol 101, February 2015, pp. 333-349
Abstract: 

In this paper, a new interpretation of the ironstone crusts of the Bahariya Formation as late diagenetic products is provided. The siliciclastic Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation outcropping in the northern part of the Bahariya Depression (Western Desert, Egypt) is subdivided into three informal units that are mainly composed of thinly laminated siltstone, cross-bedded and massive sandstone, fossiliferous sandstone/sandy limestone and variegated shale. Abundant ironstone crusts occur preferentially within its lower and upper units but are absent in the middle unit. The ironstone crusts show selective replacement of carbonate components, including calcretes, by iron oxyhydroxides. More permeable parts of the terrigenous beds such as burrow traces, subaerial exposure surfaces, concretionary features and soft-sediment deformation structures led to heterogeneous distribution of the iron oxyhydroxides. A variety of diagenetic minerals, where goethite and hematite are the main end-products, were characterized by mineralogical analysis (XRD), petrography and SEM observation, and geochemical determinations (EMPA). Other diagenetic minerals include Fe-dolomite/ankerite, siderite, manganese minerals, barite, silica, illite/smectite mixed-layer, and bitumen. These minerals are interpreted to be formed in different diagenetic stages. Some minerals, especially those formed during eodiagenesis, show features indicative of biogenic activity. During burial, dolomite and ankerite replaced preferentially the depositional carbonates and infilled secondary porosity as well. Also during mesodiagenesis, the decomposition of organic matter resulted in the formation of bitumen and created reducing conditions favorable for the mobilization of iron-rich fluids in divalent stage. Telodiagenesis of the Cenomanian Bahariya deposits took place during the Turonian–Santonian uplift of the region. This resulted in partial or total dissolution of Fe-dolomite and ankerite which was concomitant to iron oxyhydroxide precipitation upon mixing with shallow oxygenated water. Circulation of reducing iron-rich fluids through fractures and inter and intrastratal discontinuities is proposed as an alternative model to explain the controversial source of iron for the ironstone crusts of the Bahariya Formation. The origin of iron-rich fluids is probably related to the basement rocks. The provided model relates the fluid movements through fractures and discontinuities with the preferential replacement of carbonates. This combination of processes is consistent with the heterogeneous geometries and the wide distribution of the ironstones.

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CITATION: Afify, A.M.. Diagenetic origin of ironstone crusts in the Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation, Bahariya Depression, Western Desert, Egypt . : Elsevier , 2015. Journal of African Earth Sciences, Vol 101, February 2015, pp. 333-349 - Available at: http://library.au.int/diagenetic-origin-ironstone-crusts-lower-cenomanian-bahariya-formation-bahariya-depression-western-5