Phosphorite crops out in the Cordillera Oriental of the Colombian Andes in rocks of Late Cretaceous age as strata composed mostly of pelletal carbonate fluorapatite. One stratum of Santonian age near the base of the Galembo Member of the La Luna Formation crops out at many places in the Departments of Santander and Norte de Santander and may be of commercial grade. This stratum is more than one meter thick at several places near Lebrija and near Sardinata, farther south it is locally one meter thick or more near the base of the Guadalupe Formation in the Department of Boyaca. Other phosphorite beds are found at higher stratigraphic levels in the Galembo Member and the Guadalupe Formation, and at some places these may be commercial also. A stratigraphically lower phosphorite occurs below the Galembo Member in the Capacho Formation (Cenomanian age) in at least one area near the town of San Andres, Santander. A phosphorite or pebbly phosphate conglomerate derived from erosion of the Galembo Member forms the base of the Umir Shale and the equivalent Colon Shale at many places.
Deposition of the apatite took place upon the continental shelf in marine water of presumed moderate depth between the Andean geosyncline and near-shore detrital deposits adjacent to the Guayana shield. Preliminary calculations indicate phosphorite reserves of approximately 315 million metric tons in 9 areas, determined from measurements of thickness, length of the outcrop, and by projecting the reserves to a maximum of 1,000 meters down the dip of the strata into the subsurface. Two mines were producing phosphate rock in 1969; one near Turmeque, Boyaca, and the other near Tesalia, Huila.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Paleontologic and stratigraphic relations of phosphate beds in Upper Cretaceous rocks of the Cordillera Oriental, Colombia
U.S. Geological Survey,
iii, 101 p., 7 over-size sheets :ill., maps ;27 cm.