Geoelectrical prospecting of glauberite deposits in the Ebro basin (Spain)
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Glauberite (Na2Ca[SO4]2) is an evaporitic mineral which is used in the industries of detergents, paper, glass, pharmacy, etc. Glauberite rocks are seldom found cropping out because they are very sensitive to weathering processes; for this reason their prospection is conducted by means of boreholes. Nowadays, geophysical techniques are not used to support the characterization of glauberite deposits due to the lack of knowledge of their physical properties. In this study geoelectrical methods are proposed as alternative techniques in the early stages of glauberite prospecting. Several glauberite units have been studied in different parts of the Ebro basin (Spain) by means of electrical resistivity tomography sections. The electrical resistivity range showed by glauberite deposits has been found to be low (10–100 O·m) when the matrix component (clay and microcrystalline carbonates) is above 45% of the bulk composition of the rock. This type of rocks has been studied in Montes de Torrero (Zaragoza) and is the most common glauberite deposit case. Besides matrix-rich glauberite rocks, an exceptional case of a pure glauberite layer has been studied in Alcanadre (La Rioja). From this site, it has been estimated that deposits with glauberite crystal fraction close to 100% show a resistivity range of at least 3 × 103 O·m. Using this extreme value as reference, the Hashin–Shtrikman bounds have been calculated for glauberite rocks considering that they are constituted of four phases (glauberite, gypsum, anhydrite and matrix). When the matrix fraction represents 45% or more of the bulk rock, the resistivity range will be that of the lower Hashin–Shtrikman bound, which is similar for any combination of sulfate (glauberite, gypsum and/or anhydrite) composition; hence, it can be considered as a two-phase system (matrix and sulfate). For rocks with less than 30% of matrix fraction, the upper Hashin–Shtrikman bound trend must be considered; however, the resistivity values overlap, making it impossible to establish a classification. Between 30 and 45% of matrix fraction, there is a transitional domain. Additionally, some theoretical models representing the most common structures in sulfate rocks have been elaborated in order to help in the interpretation of the inverted resistivity images obtained from the field data. Some artifacts generated by the complexity of the resistivity distribution of the terrain have been identified in both data sets.
CitationGuinea, A. [et al.]. Geoelectrical prospecting of glauberite deposits in the Ebro basin (Spain). "Engineering geology", Maig 2014, vol. 174, p. 73-86.
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