Investigation of Parent Source Material in Smith County, Mississippi
Calhoun, Kayla Jean
AdvisorSchmitz, Darrel W.
Kirkland, Brenda L.
CommitteeMylroie, John E.
Calcium bentonite deposits of the Glendon and Bucatunna formations of the Oligocene Vicksburg Group located in Smith County, Mississippi were examined to determine the depositional environment, diagenetic history and origin of the bentonite. Traditionally, calcium bentonite was considered to be the product of the weathering of volcanic ash deposits. The hypothesis tested is that the bentonite deposits are not a result of weathered volcanic ash, but are a result of weathered marl. Core samples were drilled from the Chisholm bentonite mine in Smith County and were studied using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and petrographic microscopy. Abundant bacteria along with nanometer-scale organic textures were found throughout and are consistently associated with bentonite, illite, and smectite. No evidence of volcanic ash was found. It appears that the calcium bentonite clays in the Glendon and Bucatunna formations of Smith County, Mississippi formed from weathering, including bacterial activity, of glauconite-bearing marl.