First Advisor

Michael L. Cummings

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Bauxite -- Oregon -- Columbia County, Bauxite -- Washington (State) -- Cowlitz County, Geochemistry -- Oregon -- Columbia County, Geochemistry -- Washington (State) -- Cowlitz County



Physical Description

1 online resource (116 pages)


Ferruginous bauxite deposits developed from flows of the Columbia River Basalt Group in northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington. Samples of the iron pisolite and the gibbsite nodular zones from the upper portion of the weathering profile of drill core from Columbia County, Oregon and Cowlitz County, Washington, were analyzed by instrumental neutron activation. The mineralogy was determined using Xray diffraction and Mossbauer spectroscopy.

The gibbsite nodular zone is above the clay-rich saprolite or relic basalt zone. The nodules contain relic vesicles and well preserved relic plagioclase microlites. Gibbsite occurs with poorly crystalline goethite and hematite in the gibbsite nodular zone. Clays are absent in this part of the profile .

The iron pisolite zone is at the top of the profile above the gibbsite nodular zone. Both maghemite and goethite pisolites occur in the lower part of the zone while maghemite pisolites are dominant in the upper part of the pisolite zone.

The parent flow is the Frenchman Springs Member of the Wanapum Basalt for the Columbia County profile and the Pomona Member of the Saddle Mountains Basalt for the Cowlitz County profile.

Distribution of the major, minor and trace elements through the profile shows three distinct sympathetic patterns consisting of lanthanide elements and Na; As, Sbi Th, Hf, and Ta; and transition metals Fe, Ti, V, and Cr.

Ratios between the high-field strength elements Ta and Hf are nearly constant through the profile, and Hf appears to be the least mobile elements of the elements analyzed in the profile. Ratios of other elements were calculated against Hf, based on the assumption that it has remained largely immobile during weathering, to show element enrichment and depletion in the profile independent of mass-volume changes. Transition metals and Al show a progressive depletion through the upper gibbsite nodular and iron pisolite zone due to leaching in the profile. Lanthanide elements (except Ce), As, and Sb show an obvious enrichment in the iron pisolite zone relative to the gibbsite nodular zone.

Volume reduction during weathering was calculated based on the immobility of Hf. In the gibbsite nodular zone, the volume reduction calculated for bulk samples is greater than for gibbsite nodule separates suggesting that a greater volume reduction occurred the matrix material surrounding the nodules. Ratios between gibbsite nodules and parent basalt of the immobile elements Hf, Ta, Fe, Ti, Th and Cr suggest that the nodules, where the relic textures are preserved, have undergone volume reduction. Based on the immobility of Hf, the gibbsite nodules lost approximately 40% of the original volume. The volume factors based on the immobility of Hf show that the pisolite zone experienced a greater volume reduction than the gibbsite nodular zone.

Absolute gains and losses relative to the parent basalt show the following relative order of depletion: Na > La > Eu > Sm > Co > Mn > Ce > Sc > Ta > V > Cr > Lu > Th > Fe > Ga > Al. The lesser mobility of Ce and Lu relative to other lanthanide elements suggests fractionation of lanthanide elements in the bauxite profile. Aluminum is both enriched and depleted at different depths in the gibbsite nodular zone suggesting that Al is mobilized from the matrix and possibly the pisolite zone into Al enriched gibbsite nodules.

Volume reduction and destruction of relic textures in the pisolite zone is accompanied by small-scale mobilization of Th, Cr, Fe, Hf, Ga, Sc, and Ta during the formation of iron pisolites.

Formation of the iron pisolite zone above the gibbsite nodular zone may indicate a change in climate from a heavy year round to a seasonal rainfall pattern.


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