Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5223
Based on petrographic observations of 135 thin sections, rocks in the Meade Peak Phosphatic Shale Member of the Permian Phosphoria Formation in southeastern Idaho can be placed into one of four major lithofacies: organic claystone, muddy siltstone, peloidal phosphorite, and dolomitized calclithite—in order of decreasing abundance. Organic claystones are the most common lithofacies in the Meade Peak. Many of these rocks contain sufficient amounts of silt to make silty, organic claystones a common subtype. Organic claystones commonly contain crystals of muscovite and bioclasts as accessory components, and they are typically parallel laminated. Muddy siltstones are composed primarily of quartz silt, but some feldspar and rare carbonate silt are also present; some rocks are parallel laminated. Phosphate peloids are composed of varying amounts of opaque, complex, and translucent material, and observed internal structures are classified as simple, banded, cored, zoned, oolitic, nucleated, and polynucleated. Opaque, complex, and translucent peloids form the framework grains of three peloidal phosphorite rocks: wackestone phosphorite, packstone phosphorite, and grainstone phosphorite. Wackestone phosphorite is phosphatic-mud supported and contains more than 10 percent peloids; it is the most common type of phosphorite. Packstone phosphorite is peloid supported and contains interstitial phosphatic mud; it is also a common type. Grainstone phosphorite is peloid supported but lacks phosphatic mud; it is the least common type. Dolomitized calclithites contain three types of carbonate grains: macrocrystalline, microcrystalline, and crystalline with a microcrystalline nuclei—in order of decreasing abundance. Based on chemical staining and X-ray diffraction analyses, most of the carbonate is dolomite. Sufficient amounts of quartz silt or muddy material allow some rocks to be called silty dolomitized calclithite or muddy dolomitized calclithite, respectively. Sedimentary structures are absent except in some muddy dolomitized calclithites. Organic claystones, muddy siltstones, and dolomitized calclithites are detrital deposits. Many rocks in the Meade Peak contain calcite and apatite as fracture fillings and vug linings. As expected, peloidal phosphorites are most common in ore zones, and detrital rocks are most common in waste zones. Mine-specific marker beds are mostly composed of dolomitized calclithite.
Posted November 2007
Johnson, E.A., Grauch, R.I., and Herring, J.R., 2007, Petrographic descriptions of selected rock specimens from the Meade Peak Phosphatic Shale Member, Phosphoria Formation (Permian), southeastern Idaho: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007–5223, 17 p.
Previous Petrographic Studies
Terminology and Classification
Petrographic Observations of Selected Marker Beds
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