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The mineralogy of suspended matter, fresh and Cenozoic sediments in the fluvio-deltaic Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt–Ems area, the Netherlands: An overview and review

  • J. Griffioen (a1), G. Klaver (a2) and W.E. Westerhoff (a3)


Minerals are the building blocks of clastic sediments and play an important role with respect to the physico-chemical properties of the sediment and the lithostratigraphy of sediments. This paper aims to provide an overview of the mineralogy (including solid organic matter) of sediments as well as suspended matter as found in the Netherlands (and some parts of Belgium). The work is based on a review of the scientific literature published over more than 100 years. Cenozoic sediments are addressed together with suspended matter and recent sediments of the surface water systems because they form a geoscientific continuum from material subject to transport via recently settled to aged material. Most attention is paid to heavy minerals, clay minerals, feldspars, Ca carbonates, reactive Fe minerals (oxides, siderite, sulphides, glauconite) and solid organic matter because they represent the dominant minerals and their properties form a main issue in subsurface and water management. When possible and relevant, the amounts, provenance, relationship with grain size distribution, early diagenesis and palaeohydrological evolution are described. Tables with statistical data about the mineral contents and isotopic composition of carbonates and organic matter are presented as overviews. The review on the mineralogy of Dutch fluvial and marine environments is more extensive than that for the other sedimentary environments because the first two have been studied much more intensively than the others and they also form the larger part of the Dutch deposits. The focus is on the natural background mineralogy of Dutch sediments, but this is hard for recent sediments, largely because the massive hydraulic infrastructure present in the Netherlands has probably also affected the mineralogy and geochemistry of sediments deposited in recent centuries. Many findings are summarised, several of which lead to more general insights for the Dutch situation. Ca carbonates in sediments often have several provenances and thus must be considered as mixtures. Dolomite is commonly present in addition to calcite. The importance of biotite as weatherable mica is unclear. Weathering of heavy minerals plays some role but it is unclear in which way it affects the heavy mineral associations. Clays are usually dominated by illite, smectite and their interstratified variant, while kaolinite is usually below 20% and chlorite below 5%. Vermiculite is a minor constituent in fluvial clays and its illitisation presumably happens during early diagenesis in the marine environment. Opaque Fe hydroxides can be present in addition to Fe oxyhydroxide coatings and both will play a role in redox chemistry as reactive Fe minerals. Feldspars in marine sediments must be present but they have not been properly studied. The genesis of rattle stones and carbonate concretions has not been completely elucidated. The fraction of terrigeneous organic matter in estuarine and coastal marine sediments is substantial. The available data and information are spread irregularly over the country and the reviewed information discussed in this paper is derived from relatively small-scale studies dealing with a limited amount of analysed samples. Much information is available from the Scheldt estuaries in the southwestern part of the Netherlands partly due to the severe contamination of the Western Scheldt in recent decades.

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