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Structural Variations in Chlorite and Illite in a Diagenetic Sequence from the Imperial Valley, California

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2024

Jeffrey R. Walker*
Department of Geology, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812
Graham R. Thompson
Department of Geology, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812
1Present address: Department of Geology and Geography, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601


Samples of cuttings from the Borchard A-2 well, Imperial Valley, California, were collected over a measured borehole temperature interval 135° to 275°C. The <0.5-µm (e.s.d.) fraction was separated using high-gradient magnetic separation (HGMS) to create a nonmagnetic fraction rich in illite and a magnetic fraction rich in chlorite. Chlorite was less easily separated from illite in lower temperature samples (<200°C), presumably due to the presence of polymineralic grains of chlorite and illite. Grains in higher temperature samples were more nearly monomineralic and more easily separated.

The chlorite is the IIb polytype. The thickness of coherent scattering domains of chlorite increased until 220°C and then remained constant. The amount of 7-Å interstratified material increased downhole until 195°C and then decreased. Over the same temperature interval, the illite polytypes varied systematically from 1Md (135° to 175°C) to 1M + 2M1 (230° to 275°C) and coherent scattering domains in the mineral became thicker to about 200°C and then remained constant in thickness. The percentage of illite in mixed-layer illite/smectite (I/S) increased from 40% at 135°C to 100% at temperature >205°C; ordering in the I/S changes from R0 to R1 between 135° and 155°C, and from R1 to R ≥ 3 at temperatures >155°C.

The concurrent structural changes in chlorite and illite indicate a general improvement in the overall structural order of the clay minerals with increasing temperature. Differences between chlorite and illite suggest that the minerals may have reacted differently to changing conditions or that they may have formed by different mechanisms. The exclusive occurrence of IIb chlorite at temperatures as low as 135°C extends the limit of IIb chlorite stability to temperatures lower than previous estimates.

Research Article
Copyright © 1990, The Clay Minerals Society

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