Heavy-mineral trends in the Beaufort Sea

Open-File Report 75-667




Sediments of the Beaufort Sea, off the North Slope of Alaska contain a great variety of heavy minerals. These include garnet, chrome spinel, augite, pigionite, diopside, hornblende, enstatite, hypersthene, epidote, clinozoisite, zoisite, apatite, tourmaline, chloritoid, sphene, zircon, and opaque minerals. Much rarer constituents are glaucophane, lamprobolite, rutile, Kyanite, staurolite, and riebeckite. Garnet increases in abundance from east to west, which corresponds to a similar increase in garnet abundance in coastal outcrops of the Gubik Formation sands. Only garnet and iron-stained aggregates appear to have source-related distribution patterns. The other heavy minerals lack distinct distributive provinces, reflecting an environment dominated by intense mixing by ice-gouging and bioturbation and a homogenous source area. Waves and currents are not strong enough to sort sediments at depths greater than 10 m except during summer storms. The source of the Beaufort Sea heavy minerals is dominated by contributions from the Alaskan North Slope deposits of Tertiary and younger age. The Colville River, largest in the region, is probably the most influential in transporting sediments, but because of wave and current-mixing of sediments on the shelf, exact contributions from each river drainage cannot be ascertained. Coastal erosion of the Gubik Formation is probably at least as important as the Colville River in supplying heavy minerals to the Beaufort Sea. (Sinha-OEIS)

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Heavy-mineral trends in the Beaufort Sea
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
27 leaves :ill., maps ;1975; (32 p., 1 sheet - PGS)