Alteration of hyaloclastites in the HSDP 2 Phase 1 Drill Core 1. Description and paragenesis

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Abstract

[1] The core from the Hawaii Scientific Drilling Project 2 Phase 1 provides a unique opportunity for studying the low-temperature alteration processes affecting basalt in suboceanic-island environments. In hyaloclastites, which make up about one half of the lower 2 km of this core (the portion that accumulated below sea level), these processes have resulted in zones of incipient, smectitic, and palagonitic alteration. The alteration of sideromelane in these hyaloclastites has four distinct outcomes: dissolution, replacement by two different textural varieties of smectite (i.e., reddened and green grain-replacive), and conversion to palagonite. All samples show evidence of the incipient stage of alteration, suggesting that every sample passed through that zone. However, most samples that show palagonitic alteration do not also show evidence of smectitic alteration and vice versa, suggesting these two outcomes represent divergent paths of alteration. Incipient alteration (1080 to 1335 m depth) includes fracturing and mechanical reduction of porosity from 40–45% to about 20–30%; growth of one form of pore-lining smectite; dissolution of sideromelane; and formation of sideromelane-grain replacements consisting of Fe-hydroxide-strained smectite, titaniferous nodules, and tubules. DNA-specific stains and morphological features indicate that tubules are the result of microbial activity. Smectitic alteration (1405 to 1573 m) includes growth of a second variety of pore-lining smectite, pore-filling and grain-replacing smectite, and cements of phillipsite and Ca-silicate minerals. Palagonitic alteration (1573 m to the deepest samples) includes replacement of margins of shards with palagonite and growth of pore-filling chabazite. The porosity is reduced by cementation to less than 4% at 1573 m. Porosity does not decrease further down hole, nor does the thickness of palagonite rims on shards increase through the zone of palagonitic alteration. In these samples, palagonite is not an intermediate alteration product in the development of smectite. Rather, in hyaloclastites from the HSDP core, palagonite has formed after all observed smectites. Current downhole temperatures at the boundaries between the three alteration zones are in the range from 12° to 15°C, suggesting that geochemical thresholds or vital effects, not temperature conditions, control different outcomes of alteration.

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