Tracing the evolution of the world's first mined bauxite from palaeotopography to pyritization: insights from Minjera deposits, Istria, Croatia

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Ivor Perković
Maja Martinuš
Blanka Cvetko Tešović
Igor Vlahović
Darko Matešić
Robert J. Newton
Tianchen He
Marin Šoufek
Ivan Razum
Goran Durn


The Minjera bauxites are the first analysed and mined bauxites in the world. They are a group of pyritised  bauxites situated in northern Istria, developed during the subaerial exposure phase which marked a major part  of the Late Cretaceous and Palaeocene in northern Istria. In this study, the morphology, petrography,  mineralogy, geochemistry as well as stable sulphur isotopes of the D-1 and D-15 deposits from Minjera were  studied, as well as the evolution of their bedrock and cover. This study found that those two deposits differ in  morphology, mineralogy and geochemistry as a consequence of their different palaeotopographical positions,  with the D-1 deposit located at a higher position at the time of its formation compared to D-15, which led to the  higher degree of leaching and desilicification in the D-1 deposit. The pyritisation in the studied deposits was a  multi-phase process, which began with the deposition of framboidal pyrite and micrometre-sized anhedral  pyrite, over which colloform pyrite was precipitated. This indicates that the solutions were initially  supersaturated with iron sulphide, saturation of which subsequently changed, as finally euhedral, dendritic and  acicular pyrite were deposited, indicating undersaturated conditions. The final stage was marked by deposition  of pyrite veins. This formational sequence of pyrites is also supported by stable sulphur isotopes, as the δ34S  values exhibit a wide range from -40.86 to 2.32 ‰, where lower values indicate an open system with an  unrestricted sulphate supply in which supersaturated conditions could have been achieved, while the higher  values indicate a change towards a closed system with limited sulphate supply. The organic matter necessary  for microbial sulphate reduction was derived from the marshy environment established atop of the bauxite. The initial flooding started in the Palaeocene, with the first part of the sequence being deposited under lacustrine  conditions, which changed towards fully marine with the deposition of Foraminiferal limestones. 


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