Textural patterns, mineralogy, and chemistry of sandstone-related Calçadinha chalcedony (Piauí, Brazil)

ABSTRACT: Paleozoic sandstones of the Parnaíba Basin, in addition to hosting opal deposits, also have occurrences of chalcedonies with potential for mineral and ornamental handicrafts, in addition to assisting the understanding of the geological evolution of the basin. However, the chalcedonies were not investigated yet, and this study intended to fulfill this gap by the investigation of the chalcedonies of Calçadinha in Piauí. Fieldwork, microtexturals analysis, X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectrometry, chemical analysis, and gemological assessments were developed. Four distinct types of chalcedonies have been distinguished. They stand out for their well distribution of Fe and Mn dendrites, which involves opal nodules, and contains microcavities with well-formed microcrystalline quartz, nontronite, and palygorskite. The mesoscopic features of these chalcedonies and cabochon and free forms cutting show potential for use in mineral crafts and semi-jewels. As expected, the chalcedonies are dominated by high contents of SiO2, besides the low and variable contents of Al2O3, Fe2O3, MgO, and TiO2. Among trace elements that show high Ba contents, bound in barite, seem also to be a geochemical signature of the country sandstones in Parnaíba basin. These chalcedonies were formed during the partial solubilization of SiO2 of sandstones, which was promoted during their tectonic formation in faults and fractures zones.