Scanning Electron Microscopy


Thirty-five samples of laterites and bauxites representing both the high-level (elevation > 1000 m) and low-level (elevation < 100 m) deposits in western India have been examined by scanning electron microscopy. Megascopically, laterites exhibit vesicular, spongy and pisolitic textures, whereas bauxites display pisolitic, massive and nodular textures. Laterites, as well as bauxites are commonly characterized by framework microtexture produced by a three dimensional arrangement of crystallites. Locally, the luterites and bauxites exhibit crystalline-webby microtexture formed by a web-like arrangement of stacks of lamellar crystals. The individual crystals in the matrix of laterites and bauxites display anhedral forms and they range in size from about 0.5 μm to 20 μm. Crystals larger than 20 μm in size generally occur as linings of the vugs, in channels and veins, and they are usually euhedral. Pisolites and nodules in laterites and bauxites are composed of material generally finer than the material in the matrix around them. Platy morphology is most common for the minerals in laterites and bauxites. Gibbsite occurs in various forms ranging from prismatic, stubby slab-like to lath-shaped crystals.

Both high-level and low-level deposits of laterites are characterized by similar textures. The variations in textures of bauxites are also found to be independent of the elevation of the deposits.

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