Ferromanganese oxyhydroxide crusts and nodules associated with palygorskite were recovered from the Santa Lucia Escarpment where the Morro Fracture Zone intersects the central California continental margin. Palygorskite was found in pure, high-Mg, low-Al, boxwork-textured veins, and disseminated in poorly consolidated palygorskite-rich mudstone. The purity of the palygorskite boxwork blades and the boxwork structure suggest formation by direct precipitation rather than by diagenetic or detrital processes. Interaction of hydrothermal fluids with oceanic basalt and/or deeper ultramafic rocks produced a Mg-Si enriched fluid supersaturated with respect to palygorskite that precipitated directly from the fluid at or near the seafloor. The close association of Fe-Mn crusts and nodules with both the palygorskite-rich mudstone and boxwork-vein palygorskite suggests a genetic link between the three types of mineralization. Mixed origin hydrothermal-hydrogenetic Fe-Mn crusts, with up to 50% hydrothermal input, formed contemporaneously with and subsequent to palygorskite formation. Fe-Mn nodules collected in the same dredge are of combined hydrogenetic and diagenetic origin and appear to be unrelated to hydrothermal mineralization that produced the crusts and palygorskite. The thickness of the Fe-Mn crusts and rare diatom fragments within the mudstone suggest an age of formation between 13 and 5 Ma. ?? 1993.
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Hydrothermal palygorskite and ferromanganese mineralization at a central California margin fracture zone