The Tertiary sediments of the southern part of Almazán basin (Province of Soria) exhibit two different facies with a sharp transition between them: (1) a coarse detrital facies; and (2) a lutite and carbonate facies. The vertical evolution of these facies in the different sections and boreholes is made up of several retrograde depositional sequences which evolve from proximal alluvial fans to carbonate lacustrine systems associated with the most distal fan sediments.
The variation of the mineralogical association (carbonates, quartz, detrital clay minerals, palygorskite and, occasionally, sepiolite and smectites) allows four ‘mineralogical facies’ to be established. Each facies has a distinctive mineralogy related to the main genetic processes: (1) detrital facies; (2) transitional facies; (3) ‘chemical dolomite-palygorskite’ facies and (4) ‘chemical calcite’ facies. Although the carbonates (calcite and dolomite) are always the most abundant minerals, fibrous clay minerals are also important. The main mechanism of mineral authigenesis in this basin is chemical precipitation; the presence and distribution of carbonates and fibrous clay minerals is controlled by the relative concentrations of [Mg2+], [Ca2+], pCO2, pH and [SiO4H4]. Palygorskite occurrences, in these conditions, are related to dissolution-precipitation mechanisms of pre-existing detrital material.