Clay minerals as an index of the degree of metamorphism of the carbonate and terrigenous rocks in the South Wales coalfield



Illite, illite-montmorillonite (I-M) mixed layer, kaolinite and chlorite are the principal clay minerals identified in the carbonate and terrigenous carboniferous rocks in the South Wales coalfield. Mineralogic changes and illite crystallinity are the main modifications in the studied rocks. Progressive illitization of I-M mixed layers (decrease in their expandabilities) towards the western part of the coalfield (i.e. in the direction of increase in coal-rank and grade of metamorphism), and the development of vermicular kaolinite, dickite, allevardite and pyrophyllite in the anthracite area are the main mineralogic changes. Illite crystallinity was determined by Weaver's sharpness ratio (S.R.) and isosharpness ratio maps of illite in the carbonate and terrigenous rocks are produced showing a gradual increase in illite crystallinity towards the west. Illites in the terrigenous rocks tend to be aluminous (evidenced by the increase in their intensity ratios, ‘I.R.’) with increase in coal-rank and grade of metamorphism towards the west. These changes are controlled to some extent by lithology. Correlation of illite S.R. with either its I.R. or expandability of I-M mixed layer, has outlined two diagenetic zones in the coalfield: zone I, the Diagenetic zone, in the eastern and southern regions; and zone II, the Metadi-agenetic zone, covering the central and northern parts of the central region. The Anchimetamorphic zone (zone III), which corresponds to the anthracite area in the northwestern region, was differentiated by correlating the illite S.R. with coal-rank. The occurrence of the above mentioned diagenetic zones and modifications of the clay minerals in the carboniferous rocks of the South Wales coalfield are mainly lateral without variation with increase in depth.