UIS Commission on Karst Hydrogeology and Speleogenesis
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Guinea Maysounave, Ander
Geoelectrical characterization of sulphate rocks

Gypsum rocks are widely exploited in the world as industrial minerals. The purity of the gypsum rocks (percentage in gypsum mineral –CaSO4•2H2O- in the whole rock) is a critical factor to evaluate the potential exploitability of a gypsum deposit. It is considered than purities higher than 80% in gypsum are required to be economically profitable. Gypsum deposits have been studied with geoelectrical methods; a direct relationship between the electrical resistivity values of the gypsum rocks and its lithological composition has been established, with the presence of lutites being the main controlling factor in the geoelectrical response of the deposit. This phenomenon has been quantified by means of a combination of theoretical calculations, laboratory measurements and field data acquisition. A geoelectrical classification of gypsum rocks defining three types of gypsum rocks has been elaborated. Anhydrite (CaSO4) is frequently found in gypsum quarries and in no-outcropping sulphates. Because of its highest hardness than gypsum it supposes a problem for the extraction of gypsum; the fronts of the quarries in which anhydrite is found are stopped at the moment when it appears. The electrical properties of calcium sulphates have been studied by means of geoelectrical methods. The conductivity of crystals has been tested in laboratory. A direct relationship between the electrical conductivity values of the calcium sulphate rocks and its lithological composition has been established being the lutitic matrix the main controlling factor when it is percolant (connected at long range). When the rock is matrix dominant, the electrical resistivity trend is bond to the Hashin-Shtrikman lower bound for multiphase systems. On the other hand, when the rock is calcium sulphate dominant the trend shows the one of the Hashin-Shtrikman upper bound. A geoelectrical classification for calcium sulphate rocks has been elaborated. With this classification it is possible to differentiate between calcium sulphate rocks with different composition according to their electrical resistivity value. Glauberite (Na2Ca(SO4)2) is nowadays exploited as industrial mineral. Glauberite rocks usually have high lutite content in their composition, together with other evaporictic minerals as gypsum, anhydrite or halite among others. There is no reference to the conductivity of glauberite rocks in the bibliography, but due to their impurity it is expected to observe values as the observed for other sulphates in the matrix domain (less than 55% in purity). Two areas of the Ebro river basin (the Zaragoza and La Rioja sectors) have been studied by means of electrical resistivity tomography profiles, in which glauberite has been found in boreholes. As example of application for the study of sulphate deposits, an electrical resistivity tomography survey has been carried out in the Pira Gypsum member (SE of Catalan margin of the Tertiary Ebro Basin, Spain). Additionally, a continuous coring drill was performed in order to support the study. Electrical imaging has been successfully applied to identify the gypsum deposits interlayered in lutite units. Another resistivity survey has been carried out in an active gypsum quarry in the Gelsa Gypsum unit (Zaragoza, N Spain). During the extraction of the rock, the most important parameters to know are the purity changes in the deposit. Sudden changes in the purity make the processing of the raw material less profitable. The performed profiles have shown different gypsum layers from which the purest layers have been identified. Electrical resistivity tomography lines are useful in prospection of gypsum deposits. However, electrical imaging prospection should be supported by an accurate petrological study of the deposits, in order to properly interpret the resistivity profiles.

geophysics, geoelectrical properties of rocks, gypsum
Guinea Maysounave, Ander, 2012, Geoelectrical characterization of sulphate rocks , 1 - 301 http://www.tdx.cat/handle/10803/77857