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Frontiers of Earth Science

Front. Earth Sci.    2019, Vol. 13 Issue (2) : 247-261
Chemical and minero-petrographical changes on granulite rocks affected by weathering processes
Carmine APOLLARO(), Francesco PERRI, Emilia LE PERA, Ilaria FUOCO, Teresa CRITELLI
DiBEST, University of Calabria, I-87036 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy
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The purpose of this work is to study the weathering processes of the granulite rocks of the Serre Massif (southern Calabria, Italy) using a multidisciplinary approach based on field studies, geochemical modeling, and minero-petrographical analyses. The granulite rocks are plagioclase-rich with minor amphibole, clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene, biotite, and garnet and their texture are coarse-grained. The reaction path modeling was performed to simulate the evolution of groundwaters upon interaction with local granulite by means of the software package EQ3/6, version 8.0a. Simulations were performed in kinetic (time) mode under a closed system at a constant temperature of 11.5°C, (which reproduces the average temperature of local area) and fixing the fugacity of CO2 at 10−2.34 bar (mean value). During the most advanced stage of weathering the main mineralogical changes are: partial destruction and transformation of biotite and plagioclase associated with neoformation of ferruginous products and secondary clay minerals producing a change in the origin rock fabric. The secondary solid phases observed during the geochemical modeling (kaolinite, vermiculite and ferrihydrite) are similar to those found in this natural system. Thus, the soil-like material mainly characterized by mostly sand to gravel grain-size fractions is the final result of the weathering processes.

Keywords Serre Massif      granulitic rocks      mineralogy      petrography      weathering profile      reaction path-modeling     
Corresponding Authors: Carmine APOLLARO   
Just Accepted Date: 20 November 2018   Online First Date: 28 February 2019    Issue Date: 16 May 2019
 Cite this article:   
Carmine APOLLARO,Francesco PERRI,Emilia LE PERA, et al. Chemical and minero-petrographical changes on granulite rocks affected by weathering processes[J]. Front. Earth Sci., 2019, 13(2): 247-261.
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Francesco PERRI
Emilia LE PERA
Ilaria FUOCO
Fig.1  (a) Geological sketch map of the Alpine Chains in the Western Mediterranean area (modified from Critelli et al. (2008); Guerrera and Martín-Martín (2014); Perri and Ohta (2014); Perri (2018)). (b) Geological sketch map of the study area with location of the studied weathering profiles and groundwater samples (modified from Schenk (1980, 1990) and Langone et al. (2006)).
Fig.2  Weathering profiles of representative granulite cut slopes of the southern portion of the studied area. (a) Highly weathered and completely weathered rocks (classes IV–V), covered by colluvial and detritical–colluvial soils with variable volumes of completely weathered rocks (classes V–VI); (b) highly weathered rocks (class IV) covered by colluvial and detritical–colluvial soils with variable volumes of completely weathered rocks (classes V–VI); (c) highly weathered and completely weathered rocks (classes IV–V), covered by colluvial and detritical–colluvial soils with variable volumes of completely weathered rocks (classes V–VI); (d) residual soils and completely weathered rocks (classes V–VI), with corestones of slightly and moderately weathered rocks (classes II–III) and corestones of moderately and highly weathered rocks (classes III–IV) along cut slopes of the highest reliefs.
Fig.3  Weathering profiles of representative granulite cut slopes of the northern portion of the studied area. (a) Panoramic view of slightly and moderately weathered rocks (classes II–III), highly weathered and completely weathered rocks (classes IV–V), covered by colluvial and detritical–colluvial soils with variable volumes of completely weathered rocks (classes V–VI); (b) particular of highly weathered and completely weathered rocks (classes IV–V) covered by colluvial and detritical–colluvial soils with variable volumes of completely weathered rocks (classes V–VI); (c) particular of slightly and moderately weathered rocks (classes II–III) covered by colluvial and detritical–colluvial soils with variable volumes of completely weathered rocks (classes V–VI).
Sample Ca Mg Na K HCO3 SO4 Cl F NO3 Tsample<、=/Subscript> Cond pH Eh
/(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /(mg·L−1) /°C /(μS·cm−1) /V
Groundwater 1 3.56 1.93 10.04 1.13 22.78 4.34 15.10 0.13 0.10 15.2 103.6 6.5 0.17
Groundwater 2 3.98 2.09 9.33 1.13 18.10 12.06 12.36 0.04 1.09 14.5 105.9 6.6 0.18
Groundwater 3 7.93 3.12 10.85 1.11 38.95 6.01 13.62 0.07 1.13 15.1 140.3 7.2 0.13
Groundwater 4 4.77 2.34 8.90 0.90 21.05 3.97 14.89 0.06 0.10 14.2 110.4 7.3 0.13
Groundwater 5 2.48 1.35 8.11 0.71 15.86 4.83 10.77 0.05 0.10 13.1 97.3 6.3 0.18
Tab.1  Field data and concentrations of major components analyzed in the waters samples
Parameter Value
pH 6
Ca/(mg·L−1) 1.8
Mg/(mg·L−1) 0.4
Na/(mg·L−1) 8.5
K/(mg·L−1) 0.8
HCO3/(mg·L−1) 7.5
SO4/(mg·L−1) 3.9
Cl/(mg·L−1) 11.2
SiO2/(mg·L−1) 7.9
Fe/(mg·L−1) 0.0003
Al/(mg·L−1) 0.0023
Tab.2  Parameters of the rain used in the reaction path modeling
Fig.4  Photomicrographs of weathering stages for the studied granulite (crossed light). (a, b) Slightly weathered sample; (c) moderately weathered sample showing the sericitization process of the plagioclase core; (d, e) completely weathered sample with intra-, inter- and trans-crystalline microcracks filled by neoformed clay minerals and ferruginous products; (f) completely weathered sample showing “denticulated” or “sawtooth” terminations indicative of chemical corrosion on green amphibole.
Fig.5  Electron Probe Micro Analyzer images show the main chemical weathering processes and neoformed phases of the highly and completely weathered/residual and colluvial soil samples (classes IV–V and V–VI). (a) Dissolution features along cleavage planes of green amphibole and plagioclase; (b, c) intergranular and intragranular microcracks filled with neoformation of clay minerals and Fe-oxides/hydroxides; (d) coatings of Fe-oxides/hydroxides and clay minerals that replace unidentified precursor minerals.
Fig.6  XRD pattern of the bulk fraction of the highly weathered sample (GR3).
Fig.7  XRD patterns of the clay fraction of the completely weathered samples (GR4 and GR5).
Plagioclase +++ +++ ++ +++ +++ ++ ++ ++ +++ +++ ++
Amphibole ++ ++ +++ ++ +++ +++ +++ +++ ++ ++ ++
Pyroxenes ++ ++ + + + + + + + ++ +
Micas + + + + + + ++ ++ ++ ++ ++
Chlorite + + + + + tr tr tr + + +
Fe-oxides/hydroxides tr tr ++ + ++ ++ + ++ ++ ++ ++
Garnet + + Tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
Quartz tr tr Tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr tr
Tab.3  Mineralogical composition of the bulk fraction of the studied samples
Sample Weathering class Oxides/wt% Ratios
Na2O MgO Al2O3 SiO2 P2O5 K2O CaO TiO2 MnO Fe2O3 LOI Total CIA CIW PIA Al2O3/SiO2 Fe2O3/TiO2
GR1A II–III 3.31 6.53 13.13 58.62 0.3 1.19 4.92 1.41 1.35 7.11 2.1 99.97 49.96 53.78 49.95 0.22 5.04
GR1B II–III 3.16 5.77 13.41 59.16 0.19 2.02 4.36 1.5 0.09 7.82 2.15 99.63 49.86 56.51 49.81 0.23 5.23
GR2A II–III 2.55 5.53 13.27 58.57 0.26 0.99 5.1 1.47 0.99 8.16 2.72 99.59 52.5 55.94 52.85 0.23 5.55
GR3A IV–V 2.4 4.55 14.61 54.01 0.03 1.16 5.8 1.58 0.18 10.06 2.72 99.36 52.88 56.61 53.32 0.25 6.37
GR3B IV–V 2.82 6.4 18.8 48.42 0.27 0.67 8.14 1.53 0.14 9.66 2.96 99.82 54 55.7 54.26 0.39 6.31
GR3C IV–V 1.05 7.11 18.13 47.72 0.22 0.9 8.43 1.71 0.18 10.99 3.07 99.51 55.98 58.52 56.55 0.38 6.43
GR4A V–VI 1.04 7.78 20.13 39.12 0.22 0.4 8.43 2.3 0.19 15.31 5.02 99.94 59.93 61.06 60.31 0.51 6.66
GR4B V–VI 1.83 2.76 20.89 44.35 0.14 1.3 8.15 1.97 0.15 13.49 4.85 99.88 57.22 60.61 58.13 0.47 6.86
GR5A V–VI 2.8 5.95 19.97 41.38 0.21 0.47 6.41 1.95 0.11 14.91 5.63 99.78 60.01 61.36 60.47 0.48 7.65
GR5B V–VI 1.29 6.57 21.48 43.18 0.32 0.76 8.28 1.41 0.17 11 5.64 100.1 60.23 62.32 60.97 0.49 7.8
GR5C V–VI 1.88 7.15 20.98 42.07 0.86 0.62 7.34 1.45 0.16 11.3 5.97 99.78 60.81 62.58 61.46 0.5 7.77
Tab.4  Major element distribution, chemical indices of alteration and ratios of the studied samples
Fig.8  (a) Diagram of activity ratios and (b) pH-Eh correlation of collected groundwater samples.
Fig.9  Moles of solid reactants destroyed during progressive water–rock interaction.
Fig.10  Moles of precipitated secondary minerals.
Fig.11  Distribution of CIA, CIW, and PIA values versus Al2O3/SiO2 ratios of the studied weathered samples.
Fig.12  Distribution of Fe2O3/TiO2 and LOI values according to the weathering grade classes.
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