Petrographic and geochemical study of the Maastrichtian Ajali Sandstone, North Central Nigeria

Jude Etunimonuwa Ogala, Samuel Bamidele Olobaniyi, Omolemo Olutoyin Omo-Irabor, Edwin Ozor Adaikpoh


The Upper Cretaceous Ajali Sandstone is an extensive stratigraphic unit of the Anambra Basin in southern Nigeria. It consists of friable, white cross-bedded sandstones exhibiting a fining upward sequence. Structures such as bioturbation, planar and herringbone cross beds indicate variability in depositional environment ranging from fluviatile to deltaic. Petrographic and geochemical compositions (major and trace elements) of these sandstones have been investigated to determine their provenance, tectonic setting and weathering conditions. Fifteen sandstone samples examined are rich in quartz but poor in feldspar and lithic fragments. Texturally, the framework grains of the sandstones are fine- to medium-grained, sub-angular to sub-rounded, moderately sorted to poorly sorted, positively skewed and leptokurtic. The sandstones are texturally immature as depicted by their sub-angular edges of grains, but mineralogically mature in terms of high percentage of quartz. The high chemical index of alteration (CIA) values (71.0–99.2%) for these sandstones suggests that they were derived from highly weathered rocks in the source area. The composition of the major oxides in the sandstones revealed that SiO2 (49.1–99.7%), Al2O3 (0.2–30.3%), Fe2O3 (0.4–1.8%) and TiO2 (0.06–3.2%) were the most abundant elements in all sandstone samples indicating a high detrital quartz and clay mineral content. The Al2O3/TiO2 ratios (1.47 to 12.48), Ti/Zr (6.48–18.63) and Zr/Cr (2.24–22.36) suggest that the sandstones were derived from variable basement complex rocks, including some contribution from mafic or ultramafic components. Inferences from the plots of K2O/Na2O versus SiO2 indicated a passive margin tectonic setting for the sandstones. The high loading of CaO and Na2O in more than 50% of the samples is indicative of terrigenous input, mainly in the form of carbonates and silicates. These results are generally consistent with a derivation of the sandstones from adjacent igneous and metamorphic basement complexes (Cameroon–Adamawa highlands and Oban Massif) while the extensive and blanket-like geometry of the Ajali Sandstone is indicative of an excellent reservoir for groundwater in the Anambra Basin.



Petrography; Geochemistry; Ajali Sandstone; provenance; tectonic setting

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