Elemental Characterization of Hardpan Topping Selected Sections of Ajali Sand, Anambra Basin. Nigeria.
Abstract:The hardpan cap of selected sections of loose Ajali sand in Anambra Basin of Nigeria was investigated for elemental compositions using Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence mapping (M4-Tornado ED-XRF); while bulk mineralogy was determined by X-Ray Diffraction and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover, Germany. Elemental maps of Fe, Si, Ti, Al, Cr etc. were used to highlight texture and mineral distribution.
The Ajali sands are locally topped by iron rich hardpans. These hardpans consist of rock fragments up to several cm in length in a primary matrix and locally large pores. Besides laminated sandstone fragments, highly altered porphyritic volcanic rocks can be observed. The latter in the SEM appear highly spongeous, and show relics of phenochryts such as biotite, hornblende and pyroxene, corroded magmatic quartz, magnetite, Ilmenite, zircon or voids of former crystals in an almost entirely altered matrix
Large pores show several generations of periodic infill of quartz sand / soil mixtures alternating with multiple layers of Fe rich precipitates, locally enriched in Al, P, S, Mn or Sr agglutinating the fines. Volcanic fragments show rims of elevated Cr content, and Cr and V-rich precipitates may separate generations of infill. A number of large open pore channels rimmed by Fe-rich matrix might act as water channels. They are coated by Al, K rich precipitates.
Ajali sands can hardly be considered as the source for the agglutination of the hardpan cap. The source of Fe and other elements such as Al, K, Cr, V has to be attributed to the volcanic fragments, mainly to the matrix, but to the altered phenocrysts, too. Toxic elements such as Cr being mobile in the system are in part stabilized as precipitates. EDXRF-micro mapping provides excellent textural, chemical and even mineralogical information to get better insight into the sedimentation and agglutination history of the hardpan cap.
Key words: Hardpan Cap, Ajali Sands, Anambra Basin, Agglutination, Volcanic Fragment.