Mineralogy and geochemistry of the Lower Cretaceous siliciclastic rocks of the Morita Formation, Sierra San José section, Sonora, Mexico

J. Madhavaraju*, S. A. Pacheco-Olivas, Carlos M. González-León, Inocente G. Espinoza-Maldonado, P. A. Sanchez-Medrano, U. Villanueva-Amadoz, Rogelio Monreal, T. Pi-Puig, Erik Ramírez-Montoya, Francisco J. Grijalva-Noriega

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Clay mineralogy and geochemical studies were carried out on sandstone and shale samples collected from the Sierra San José section of the Morita Formation to infer the paleoclimate and paleoweathering conditions that prevailed in the source region during the deposition of these sediments. The clay mineral assemblages (fraction < 2 μm) of the Sierra San José section are composed of chlorite and illite. The abundance of illite and chlorite in the studied samples suggest that the physical weathering conditions were dominant over chemical weathering. Additionally, the illite and chlorite assemblages reflect arid or semi-arid climatic conditions in the source regions. K2O/Al2O3 ratio of shales vary between 0.15 and 0.26, which lie in the range of values for clay minerals, particularly illite composition. Likewise, sandstones vary between 0.06 and 0.13, suggesting that the clay minerals are mostly kaolinte and illite types. On the chondrite-normalized diagrams, sandstone and shale samples show enriched light rare earth elements (LREE), flat heavy rare earth elements (HREE) patterns and negative Eu anomalies. The CIA and PIA values and A-CN-K plot of shales indicate low to moderate degree of weathering in the source regions. However, the sandstones have moderate to high values of CIA and PIA suggesting a moderate to intense weathering in the source regions. The SiO2/Al2O3 ratios, bivariate and ternary plots, discriminant function diagram and elemental ratios indicate the felsic source rocks for sandstone and shale of the Morita Formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-411
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of South American Earth Sciences
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Mexico
  • Morita Formation
  • Paleoclimate
  • Paleoweathering
  • Sonora


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