Mineralogical, geochemical and stable isotope studies of kaolin deposit in north-west Gonabad district (eastern Iran)

Sedigheh Zirjanizadeh, Fernando Rocha, Somayeh Samiee


Kaolin deposits, situated ~10 km north-west of Gonabad (eastern Iran), formed by the intrusion of hydrothermal fluids from a granite dyke in the western part of the study area, and the alteration of rhyolite, dacite and rhyodacite related to Eocene volcanism. There are four major kaolin quarries. The rocks in the investigated area are mainly slate, dacite, rhyolite, andesite-trachyandesite, and lithic and felsic tuffs. The mineralogical compositions of the kaolin deposits are dominated by quartz, kaolinite, dickite and illite with minor chlorite, montmorillonite, albite, hematite, pyrite and gypsum. Sanidine and plagioclase crystals in rhyolite-rhyodacite are sericitized and kaolinized. Whole rock chemistry of the kaolin deposits shows high contents of SiO2 and Al2O3. Enrichments of Sr in some samples demonstrate retention of Sr and depletion of Rb, Ba, Ca and K during hydrothermal alteration of sanidine and plagioclase within the volcanic units. The chondrite-normalized rare earth element patterns of the clay deposits show LREE enrichments (La/Lu)cn = 6.75 to 57.74, pointing to kaolinization in low-pH waters. The isotope composition of the kaolin (δ18O ~+5‰) is consistent with formation at isotopic equilibrium with water of hydrothermal/magmatic origin. The mineralogical composition, REE contents and elemental ratios in these deposits suggest provenance of the kaolin deposits mainly from felsic rocks and hydrothermal fluids. The O isotopic character also supports these results.


kaolinite; Iran; REE; O isotope composition

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