Clay Mineralogy Of The Goathill North Rock Pile, Questa Mine, Taos County, NM: Origins And Indications Of In-Situ Weathering - Preprint 09-098
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 2009
Clay minerals play an important role in the gravitational stability of man-made rock piles by affecting geotechnical and hydrological characteristics of the material. The Goathill North rock pile at the Questa Mine in northern New Mexico has been the focus of a multi-disciplinary study to determine the effect of weathering on rock pile stability and in particular to determine if clay minerals are forming in the rock pile due to surface weathering. The results of x-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses indicate the clay minerals found within the fine-grained soil matrix of the rock pile are of hydrothermal origins and did not detect any neoformation of clay minerals. The foremost mechanism for an increase in clay minerals within the rock pile is the physical break down of hydrothermally altered rock fragments to release hydrothermal clay minerals. The hydrothermal clay minerals within the rock pile show evidence of weathering by the dehydration of smectite from 2-water to 1-water interlayers within the clay mineral structure. This dehydration is most likely due to higher temperatures and low relative humidities in the Goathill north rock pile during surface exposure.