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Dr. Adel Mady Afify Mohammed :: Publications:

Diagenetic origin of ironstone crusts in the Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation, Bahariya Depression, Western Desert, Egypt
Authors: A.M. Afify, M.E. Sanz-Montero, J.P. Calvo, H.A. Wanas
Year: 2015
Keywords: Ironstone crusts Late Cretaceous Bahariya Formation Egypt Iron-rich carbonates Selective replacement
Journal: Journal of African Earth Sciences
Volume: 101
Issue: Not Available
Pages: 333-349
Publisher: ELSEVEIR
Local/International: International
Paper Link: Not Available
Full paper Not Available
Supplementary materials Not Available

In this paper, a new interpretation of the ironstone crusts of the Bahariya Formation as late diagenetic products is provided. The siliciclastic Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation outcropping in the northern part of the Bahariya Depression (Western Desert, Egypt) is subdivided into three informal units that are mainly composed of thinly laminated siltstone, cross-bedded and massive sandstone, fossiliferous sandstone/ sandy limestone and variegated shale. Abundant ironstone crusts occur preferentially within its lower and upper units but are absent in the middle unit. The ironstone crusts show selective replacement of carbonate components, including calcretes, by iron oxyhydroxides. More permeable parts of the terrigenous beds such as burrow traces, subaerial exposure surfaces, concretionary features and soft-sediment deformation structures led to heterogeneous distribution of the iron oxyhydroxides. A variety of diagenetic minerals, where goethite and hematite are the main end-products, were characterized by mineralogical analysis (XRD), petrography and SEM observation, and geochemical determinations (EMPA). Other diagenetic minerals include Fe-dolomite/ankerite, siderite, manganese minerals, barite, silica, illite/smectite mixed-layer, and bitumen. These minerals are interpreted to be formed in different diagenetic stages. Some minerals, especially those formed during eodiagenesis, show features indicative of biogenic activity. During burial, dolomite and ankerite replaced preferentially the depositional carbonates and infilled secondary porosity as well. Also during mesodiagenesis, the decomposition of organic matter resulted in the formation of bitumen and created reducing conditions favorable for the mobilization of iron-rich fluids in divalent stage. Telodiagenesis of the Cenomanian Bahariya deposits took place during the Turonian–Santonian uplift of the region. This resulted in partial or total dissolution of Fe-dolomite and ankerite which was concomitant to iron oxyhydroxide precipitation upon mixing with shallow oxygenated water. Circulation of reducing iron-rich fluids through fractures and inter and intrastratal discontinuities is proposed as an alternative model to explain the controversial source of iron for the ironstone crusts of the Bahariya Formation. The origin of iron-rich fluids is probably related to the basement rocks. The provided model relates the fluid movements through fractures and discontinuities with the preferential replacement of carbonates. This combination of processes is consistent with the heterogeneous geometries and the wide distribution of the ironstones.

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