Abundance and distribution of iron-bearing and other heavy minerals in sediments of Long Island, N.Y., were examined to identify sources and sinks of dissolved iron and other ground-water constituents along a deep flow path from the ground-water divide to the southern shore along the Nassau-Suffolk County border. The occurrence and reactivity of many iron-bearing minerals in the aquifer system are affected by terminal electron-accepting processes, which are a function of depth below land surface, distance from the ground-water divide, and organic-matter content of the sediment. The lateral distribution of heavy minerals within lithologic sediments is not uniform throughout Long Island, or even along the 30-kilometer study section at the Nassau-Suffolk County border. Mineralogy and mineral abundance in Pleistocene units differ from those in Cretaceous sediments, and some of the trends vary with depth as well as from north to south. Major heavy minerals in the Cretaceous sediments at the study sites include pyrite, marcasite, muscovite, leucoxene, ilmenite, rutile, staurolite, chloritoid, and aluminosilicates (Al2SiO5); those in the overlying Pleistocene deposits at one site include iron oxides, leucoxene, zircon, garnet, ilmenite, aluminosilicates, and hornblende. Pyrite, marcasite, garnet, hornblende, and tourmaline were found locally in the Cretaceous sediments. Pyrite and marcasite were detected less frequently in borehole samples from near the ground-water divide, where the ground water is generally oxic, than in those from near the southern shore of Long Island, but were found in sulfate- reducing zones throughout the Magothy aquifer. Glauconite was present in Cretaceous and Pleistocene deposits, but only in the marine or transitional units. The most abundant and potentially reactive of the iron-bearing minerals found were iron (hydr)oxides, leucoxene, glauconite, chlorite, pyrite, and marcasite. The presence and morphology of pyrite and marcasite can be indicative of the microbial and geochemical environments. Pyrite generally was found in association with lignite or as interstitial cement. Marcasite was found as interstitial cement and is associated with the oxidation of iron-sulfide minerals upgradient. Pyrite crystals were octahedral, cubic, cubo-octahedral, and framboidal, and many samples showed more than one generation of crystal growth. Marcasite cement, which consisted of platey crystals in most samples, probably forms only under nonmarine conditions.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Heavy minerals and sedimentary organic matter in Pleistocene and Cretaceous sediments on Long Island, New York, with emphasis on pyrite and marcasite in the Magothy aquifer
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
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