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Mineralogical, crystal morphological, and isotopic characteristics of smooth slope travertine deposits at Reshuitang, Tengchong, China

Luo, Lianchao, Wen, Huaguo, Li, Yi, You, Yaxian, Luo, Xiaotong
Sedimentary geology 2019 v.381 pp. 29-45
aragonite, calcite, carbon, carbon dioxide, crystals, deaeration, fabrics, fossils, hot springs, iron oxides, manganese oxides, microbial activity, microorganisms, oxygen, pH, stable isotopes, temperature, thenardite, China
Reshuitang is an important active hydrothermal area in the Tengchong geothermal field and is characterized by many hot springs and their associated deposits. Detailed mineralogical, crystal morphological, and stable isotopic investigations of the smooth slope fossil travertines at Reshuitang and hydrochemical studies of two active springs around the fossil travertines were conducted to study their genesis. The results show that 1) the modern springs discharge waters with high temperature (>70 °C), near-neutral pH (6.3–8.34), and high saturation indices of calcite and aragonite; 2) the fossil travertines contain calcite and small amounts of Mn-Fe oxides, halite, thenardite, and non‑carbonate debris; 3) the calcite include ray crystals, dendrite crystals, platy crystals, and spike crystals; and 4) δ13C and δ18O of the fossil travertines at Reshuitang range from −1.59‰ to −0.87‰ and 6.48‰ to 7.80‰, respectively. According to comparison between the travertines at Reshuitang and other travertines in Tengchong, all these travertines are thermogene travertines, with a large contribution of mantle degassing to their parent CO2, but are formed at different temperatures. The fossil travertines at Reshuitang, similar to those at Shuzhishi, are formed at high temperatures (near 100 °C), which results in weak microbial activities during the formation of the fossil travertines. Most of the calcite crystals at Reshuitang were non-equilibrium products precipitated directly from the spring waters during the deposition process, while the spike crystals originated from diagenetic dissolution of large calcite crystals. Comparison between the fossil travertines at Reshuitang and other smooth slope travertines from other areas shows these smooth slope travertines have different lithofacies and fabrics. In smooth slope environments, temperature may control the distribution and development of microbes and the intensity of CO2 degassing, and consequently cause the precipitation of contrasting fabrics and lithofacies.