Subseafloor sediment and basalt rock samples at seven sites in the South Pacific Gyre (SPG) were recovered by Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 329 (2010.10.8–2010.12.13). Microscopic and spectroscopic measurements on the structural Fe-redox states and the elemental composition of smectite, and polytypes of illite in the sediment at two sites (U1365 and U1369) were performed to understand the origin/formation mechanism of clay minerals in the oligotrophic open ocean. The dominant phases of clay minerals found in the present study were smectite and illite polytypes. Suggestive of non-uniform early diagenetic processes in the expansive SPG seafloor, higher ordering of illite polytypes (1M, 2M1, and 3T) were identified at site U1369 while disordered 1Md illite were found at U1365. Smectites of hydrothermal origin (Al-rich beidellite, and saponite) were observed at U1369. Fe-rich montmorillonite minerals that are likely associated with the terrigenous input, were dominant at U1365. Nontronite (Fe-rich smectite) was detected at both sites. Red-brown to yellow-brown semiopaque oxide minerals (RSO) were widely distributed with Fe-rich smectite near the basaltic crust at U1365. Lower observed heat flow at U1365 relative to U1369 provides a possible explanation for the observed variability in clay mineral speciation between these two sites. The presence of K-nontronite at the basalt/sediment interface at both sites indicates an oxidative basalt alteration; however variations in the oxidation states of structural Fe in nontronite measured by EELS indicate that reductive environment persists locally at the basalt/sediment interface.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology