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Clay mineral associations in fine-grained surface sediments of the North Sea
Irion, G.; Zöllmer, V. (1999). Clay mineral associations in fine-grained surface sediments of the North Sea. J. Sea Res. 41(1-2): 119-128
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Irion, G.
  • Zöllmer, V.

    With the help of about 500 samples of surface sediments from the North Sea crude maps of the distributions of the clay minerals illite, chlorite, smectite and kaolinite were constructed. Illite, with 51%, is the dominant clay mineral, followed by smectite (27%), chlorite (12%), and kaolinite (10%). There are well-distinguished areas of different concentrations of the individual clay mineral associations. Illite and chlorite show highest values in the north, kaolinite concentrations are high in a corridor a few hundred kilometres wide between the east coast of the UK and the Danish/south Norwegian coast. Smectite is high in the German Bight and in the southwestern North Sea. The distribution patterns of the clay mineral associations are mainly explained by late Quaternary history and by recent to sub-recent sedimentary processes. During the Pleistocene cold periods illite- and chlorite-rich sediments from the Fennoscandian Shield were transported by the great inland ice-masses in a southward direction. The present high sea-level erosion on the east coast of Great Britain provides the North Sea with kaolinite-rich fine-grained sediments. Smectites inherited from Elsterian deposits in the southeast corner and probably from sub-recent Elbe sediments are responsible for their higher values in the German Bight. The high values of smectite in the southwest may have originated from Cretaceous sediments eroded on the banks of the Strait of Dover. The present contribution of riverine suspended load to the North Sea appears to be low.

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