This paper compares the mineralogy and chemistry of clay minerals in sediments from various depths and positions in Abert Lake and surrounding playa with those of the weathered materials entering the lake in order to reveal the nature and extent of post-depositional mineralogical modification. Analytical electron microscope (AEM) data from individual clay particles reveal that each sample is comprised of a highly inhomogeneous smectite assemblage. The thin clay flakes (commonly less than 10 nm wide) display a complete range in octahedral sheet compositions from nearly dioctahedral to nearly trioctahedral. The very abundant Mg-rich lake smectites with an estimated composition K0.29(Al0.23-Mg2.16Fe0.30)Si3.80Al0.20O10(OH)2 are not formed by weathering. This confirms the importance of diagenetic Mg uptake. Lattice-fringe imaging failed to reveal distinct brucite-like or vermiculite-like layers, suggesting that interstratifications of this type are rare or absent. Siliceous coatings on clay particles (identified by silica excess in smectite analyses) seem to favor topotactic overgrowth of stevensite rather than addition of brucite-like layers to the dioctahedral nuclei. The growth of K-stevensite dilutes the Al content of the crystal, and thus the increasing diagenetic modification reduces rather than supplements its illite component. Smectite compositions within individual samples were highly variable, yet source-related characteristics such as the abundance of Fe-rich smectite were apparent. Little evidence for systematic K or Mg enrichment with depth was identified in samples from depths of down to 16 feet below the sediment-water interface. The most magnesian assemblages are associated both with weathering sources of Mg-rich smectite and playa environments subjected to repeated wetting and drying cycles. Thus, the observations suggest that clay compositions primarily reflect changes in lake levels, brine composition, and source characteristics, rather than time and depth/compaction effects. Other diagenetic reactions in the sediment include recrystallization of Na-rich silica gel and diatom fragments. Abundant, submicron-sized, untwinned, euhedral crystals of K-feldspar are interpreted to be authigenic in origin. ?? 1991.
Additional publication details
An AEM-TEM study of weathering and diagenesis, Abert Lake, Oregon: II. Diagenetic modification of the sedimentary assemblage