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What is diatomite?

  • Petra Zahajská (a1) (a2), Sophie Opfergelt (a3), Sherilyn C. Fritz (a4), Johanna Stadmark (a1) and Daniel J. Conley (a1)...

Abstract

Different types of biogenic remains, ranging from siliceous algae to carbonate precipitates, accumulate in the sediments of lakes and other aquatic ecosystems. Unicellular algae called diatoms, which form a siliceous test or frustule, are an ecologically and biogeochemically important group of organisms in aquatic environments and are often preserved in lake or marine sediments. When diatoms accumulate in large numbers in sediments, the fossilized remains can form diatomite. In sedimentological literature, “diatomite” is defined as a friable, light-coloured, sedimentary rock with a diatom content of at least 50%, however, in the Quaternary science literature diatomite is commonly used as a description of a sediment type that contains a “large” quantity of diatom frustules without a precise description of diatom abundance. Here we pose the question: What is diatomite? What quantity of diatoms define a sediment as diatomite? Is it an uncompacted sediment or a compacted sediment? We provide a short overview of prior practices and suggest that sediment with more than 50% of sediment weight comprised of diatom SiO2 and having high (>70%) porosity is diatomaceous ooze if unconsolidated and diatomite if consolidated. Greater burial depth and higher temperatures result in porosity loss and recrystallization into porcelanite, chert, and pure quartz.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author at: Department of Geology, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 22362Lund, Sweden. E-mail address: petra.zahajska@geol.lu.se (P. Zahajská).

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Keywords

What is diatomite?

  • Petra Zahajská (a1) (a2), Sophie Opfergelt (a3), Sherilyn C. Fritz (a4), Johanna Stadmark (a1) and Daniel J. Conley (a1)...

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