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Trace and Rare Earth Element Distribution and Mobility During Diagenetic Alteration of Volcanic Ash to Bentonite in Eastern Iranian Bentonite Deposits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2024

Alireza Namayandeh
Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA School of Geology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Enghelab Avenue, P.O. Box 14155-6455, Tehran, Iran
Soroush Modabberi*
School of Geology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Enghelab Avenue, P.O. Box 14155-6455, Tehran, Iran
Alberto López-Galindo
Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC-Universidad de Granada), Avda. de las Palmeras, 4, 18100 Armilla, Granada, Spain
*E-mail address of corresponding author:


The chemical composition of the source magma along with the physiochemical conditions of the depositional environment are the main controlling factors in determining the behavior and mobility of trace elements and rare earth elements (REEs) during the transformation of volcanic ash to bentonite. The purpose of the present study was to determine the distribution pattern and mobility of trace elements and REEs in several bentonite deposits formed by diagenetic alteration of volcanic ash in shallow alkaline water in eastern Iran. Using geochemical and statistical data, the degree of weathering in the parent rocks and the distribution and mobility of trace elements and REEs during the alteration process at seven deposits (Chah-Taleb, Chah-Keshmir, Chah-Golestan, Chah-Pirouz, Gholeh-Gelia, Kharman-Sar, and Khal-Kooh) were studied. None of the parent rocks showed an advanced degree of depositional reworking and, therefore, their chemical composition is representative of the volcanic ash from which the bentonites were formed. In the chondrite-normalized REE patterns of both parent rocks and bentonites, the light rare earth elements (LREEs) were found to be enriched relative to the heavy rare earth elements (HREEs). The variation in δEu and δCe values suggested a high-temperature (<200°C), suboxic, aquatic environment in which the conversion of volcanic ash to bentonite occurred. In the bivariate correlation analysis, Si showed a strong inverse relationship with Al and LREEs, while large ion lithophile elements (LILEs), high field strength elements (HFSEs), HREEs, and LREEs displayed a positive correlation between the elements of their respective groups. The R2 values in the binary diagram of potential immobile elements against Al suggest a qualitative classification in which Ti, Gd, Ga, Pr, Tb, Nd, Sm, Ce, and Nb are considered immobile, and U, Dy, In, Sc, Hf, Zr, La, and Eu are considered to have had poor mobility during formation of the Eastern Iranian bentonite deposits.

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Copyright © Clay Minerals Society 2020

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