Jackson, Trevor A.; West-Thomas, J.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Geography and Geology; Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences
The genesis of the silica sands of Black River, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
Date of Publication
The only reported occurrence of quartz-rich sands in Jamaica is on the plains of Black River, St. Elizabeth where they outcrop in isolated pockets. The sands overlie limestones of the White Limestone Supergroup and the Coastal Group, and partly underlie Holocene peat deposits. Monocrystalline quartz, containing fluid and mineral inclusions, is the dominant mineral of the sands, with the heavy minerals magnetite, haematite, epidote, rutile, anatase, zircon, and tourmaline occurring in minor amounts. Grain surface texture studies of the quartz grains have identified a series of mechanical and chemical features. Microtextures depicting marine aeolian and pedological environments have been retained on the grains and represent the last three stages in the history of the grains. The petrography of the sands indicates an igneous provenance, with the major source of the detrital minerals being the Cretaceous granitoids that outcrop in the eastern half of the island. These rocks were unroofed during the uplift of Jamaica in the Late Tertiary and were subjected to extensive chemical weathering, which accounted for the breakdown of the majority of their primary silicate minerals. Fluvial transportation and deposition of detritus onto the shelf of the south coast commenced during this period and continued into the Pleistocene, providing terrigenous sand that was modified along the coast to quartz arenite by moderate to high energy marine conditions. Tidal currents, east-west longshore currents and weathering contributed to the maturity of the sand by the time it had been transported along the shelf to the vicinity of Black River. During low sea level stands in the Pleistocene, some of this sediment that became trapped on the shelf was blown inland by south-east winds.....