Zeolitic diagenesis of late Quaternary fluviolacustrine sediments and associated calcrete formation in the Lake Bogoria Basin, Kenya Rift Valley

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ABSTRACT

Late Quaternary fluviolacustrine siltstones, mudstones and claystones (Loboi Silts) on the northern margins of the saline, alkaline Lake Bogoria in the Kenya Rift Valley contain up to c. 40% authigenic analcime and minor natrolite. The zeolitic sediments are reddish brown and up to 1 m thick. The amount of analcime increases upward in the profile, but decreases with distance from the lake. The altered sediments show many pedogenic features including zeolitic root mats, rootmarks, concretions and carbonate rhizoliths. Residual patches of calcrete locally cap the zeolitic rocks. The profile is interpreted as an exhumed palaeosol and land surface on the former margins of the lake.

The analcime occurs as submicroscopic (0–5–2–5 μ.m) subhedral and euhedral crystals, which have an average Si/A 1 ratio of 2–33 (as determined by X-ray microanalysis) or 2–18 (d-value of 639 analcime peak). The analcime formed in lake marginal sediments (soils) by reaction of silicate detritus with Na2CO3 rich pore waters concentrated close to the land surface by evaporative pumping and evapotranspiration. Poorly ordered clay minerals were probably the main reactants. Authigenic illite may have been a by-product of the reactions. Chemical analyses suggest that pore waters supplied some of Na+, and possibly K+ and SiO2. The associated calcrete and rhizoliths were formed during or shortly after the main period of zeolitic alteration. The Ca2+ may have originated from infiltrating dilute runoff and groundwater. Authigenic smectite was precipitated in open porosity following analcime formation. The zeolitic alteration at Lake Bogoria provides a relatively recent analogue for lake marginal zeolites found in many ancient saline, alkaline lake sediments.

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