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Byline: S.M.A.Shah, N.Ahmad, M.A., N.Ahmad and N.Ahsan

ABSTRACT: This study mainly covers the mineralogical and petrographical characteristics of lithofacies of the Hangu Formation. The Hangu Formation in the Salt Range has unconformable contact with underlying formations of Permian to Cretaceous age. There are five lithofacies of this formation named as lithofacies-1, lithofacies-2, lithofacies-3 / 3a, lithofacies-4 and lithofacies-5. These lithofacies were identified by petrographic and X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques. In lithofacies-1 (laterite / bauxite / kaolinite) the goethite, kaolinite, boehmite, gibbsite and dickite minerals may owe to insitu leaching of older rocks. The minor minerals like glauconite, chamosite, chlorite and nacrite could be due to the influx of shallow marine water. The lithofacies-2 was formed due to the deposition of shale / clays along with chamosite in fresh water lagoon or delta front basin. The lithofacies-3 and 4 were rich in sandstone (upto 90 (Percent).

The sand grains with muscovite flakes, feldspar grains and rock fragments were possibly derived from Sargodha Karana Highs of Indian shield. The lithofacies-5 is dominantly rich in micrite with subordinate dolomite, quartz, kaolinite microbioclasts and shell fragments.

Key words: Mineralogical, petrographical, lithofacies, Salt Range, Permian, Cretaceous, kaolinite, goethite, boehmite, gibbsite, dickite, glauconite, chamosite, chlorite, nacrite, micrite, microclasts.


Geologically, the Hangu Formation exposed in the Salt Range has an unconformable contact with the underlying formations (Shah, 2009; Ashraf, et al., 1972a). The contact is marked by the presence of laterite / bauxite/ kaolinite facies of variable thickness which owe to generally chemical weathering of the Mesozoic to Permian Formations. Consequently, the deposition of laterite / bauxite / kaolinite layers occurred on the Lower Permian Warchha Sandstone in the Eastern Salt Range, on the Amb and Wargal Formations of Permian age in the Central Salt Range and on the Jurassic Datta Formation and Lower/Middle Cretaceous Lumshiwal Formation in the Western Salt Range. Location of studied sections of the Hangu Formation in the Salt Range area (Punjab) are shown in Fig. 1. The lithofacies units so developed in the Hangu Formation are quite variable in lithology throughout its extent.

This research work predominantly covers the mineralogical and petrographical characteristics of lithofacies of the Hangu Formation.


Detailed geological informations in terms of lithology of each facies and subfacies of the Hangu Formation were recorded at seven localities.

The physical characteristics of lithofacies/subfacies in every section were described separately.

More than 70 representative rock samples of lithofacies / subfacies in these sections were collected separately in plastic / cloth bags which were marked properly.

The most representative 50 thin sections were prepared by Logitech-30 machine in the laboratory of the Institute of Geology, University of the Punjab, Lahore and Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan, Islamabad.

The mineralogical study of these representative 50 thin sections was undertaken using polarizing microscope (Model Olympus BX 51) whereas 21 XRD scans were obtained by using a Philips Automated Diffracto meter (Brown and Brindley, 1984) at the Atomic Energy Mineral Centre, Lahore, Department of Solid State Physics, Punjab University, Lahore.

Petrography: The petrographic analyses precisely demarcate the stratigraphic boundaries of five lithofacies and differentiate in addition to the secondary ferruginous/ aluminous hydroxides, clay minerals and the primary non-clay minerals. This also help assess the impact of chemical weathering, alteration, and finally to check the texture and fabric to infer the environment of deposition.

The ferroan/aluminous hydroxides and clay minerals are normally found in laterite/bauxite. These are also detected in extremely fine-grained to very fine- grained shales, clays, with siltstone and fine-grained sandstone lithofacies of the Hangu Formation. As extremely fine-grained particles or aggregates are difficult to be identified by optical methods so precise identification of very fine to extremely fine-grained type minerals was made by using X-ray diffraction techniques.

The results obtained have significance in interpretation of types of lithofacies. On the basis of field observation, microscopic study and study by using XRD technique, following five lithofacies are identified variably developed in the Salt Range.

1. Laterite / Bauxite / Kaolinite Lithofacies-1

2. Shale Lithofacies-2 (Saloi and Wehali Zirin sites / section)

3. Silty Sandstone / Siltstone Listhofacies-3: Ferruginous / Gypsiferous / Glauconitic/ Calcareous

4. Silty Limestone Lithofacies-3a (only in Zaluch Section)

5. Sandstone Lithofacies-4: Ferruginous / White and Calcareous at Places

6. Limestone Lithofacies-5 / Arenaceous / Argillaceous: Grey and Ferruginous Laterite/bauxite / kaolinite lithofacies-1: In most of the laterite rocks iron bearing minerals mask the non- ferruginous minerals, thereby making estimation difficult. Therefore, petrographic mineral percentages are approximate by estimation.

These subfacies are extremely fine-grained to fine-grained groundmass of ferruginous kaolinite and goethite / limonite. Microoolites of size ranging between 0.03 to 0.15mm with pisolites upto 5.5 mm are mostly ferruginous and embedded in the groundmass. The kaolinite bearing pisolites are rimmed by goethite / limonite. Quartz however occurs as very fine-grained of size in the range of 0.01 to 0.05 mm (Fig. 2, 3). The presence of anatase along with muscovite flakes are also seen at some places. X-ray diffraction analysis shows the presence of kaolinite, gibbsite, boehmite, dickite, chamosite and anatase.

Shale lithofacies-2: The lithofacies-2 lying over lithofacies-1 is only present in Saloi and Wehali Zirin localities. The lithofacies-2 has only one subfacies which consists of quartz anhedra (10 (Percent) and muscovite flakes embedded in clayey matrix. The size of quartz anhedral grains is from 0.1 to 0.20 mm. They are subangular to subrounded and fractured mostly. The muscovite flakes vary in size from 0.1 to 0.25 mm (Fig. 4). The dark green coloured chamosite ranges from 0.1 to 0.2 mm in size. Mostly the clay matter is masked by limonite (Fig. 5). The clayey material is mostly kaolinite and anatase. X-ray diffraction indicates the presence of kaolinite and chamosite on both localities.

Silty sandstone/ siltstone lithofacies-3: This subfacies predominantly consists of angular to subangular quartz grains of 0.05 to 0.20 mm dominantly. However some grains of about 0.01 to 0.05 mm and some coarser up to 0.8 mm are also present. This latter type is subangular and subrounded. Mostly 0.02 to 0.15 mm quartz grains are perhaps by product of bigger grains which fractured during transportation and ended with finer angular to subangular pieces (Fig. 6). The quartz grains are embedded in illite ferruginous, clayey, and limonite groundmass. Tiny muscovite flakes and micrite grains are found associated. There is also subordinate occurrence of gypsum and very minute quantity of chlorite flakes.

Zaluch lithofacies-3a: This subfacies is only exposed at Zaluch. This Subfacies is comprised of extremely fine- grained to fine-grained matrix of size less than 0.01 to 0.05 mm. Most of the grains are of euhedral to subhedral in shape. The euhedra to subhedra appears to be of dolomite and sparite which are bounded by micrite cement (Fig. 7). The staining with Alizirin red-S shows that dolomite was initially formed which later on delolomitized. The dedolomite ferroan type shows ferroan micrite as groundmass. The quartz appears to be authigenic which fills the interstices at places. The limonite stains is mixed with micrite and haematite grains. X-Ray diffraction indicates the presence of calcite, dolomite and quartz.

Sandstone lithofacies-4: At Kalra Wahan and Kathwai localities, it is dominantly rich in quartz (88-95 (Percent) . The quartz grains are about 0.1 to 0.5 mm in size in general. The quartz grains are angular to subangular and subrounded mostly (Fig. 8). The larger grains about 0.35 to 0.5 mm are rounded to subrounded. The smaller grains are admixed with clayey / ferruginous material. The rock on the whole is loosely cemented with clays and limonite. The other associated mineral with quartz is plagioclase, muscovite flakes, miicrite and rock fragments.

Limestone lithofacies-5: There is only one facies of the lithofacies-5 in the Arara-17, Kathwai, Dhak Pass and Zaluch sections.

This subfacies is fine-grained to very fine- grained and bioclasts enriched (ranges from 2 to 5 mm in size). The bioclasts (mostly calcareous) along with quartz grains are embedded in micritic, ferruginous and clayey groundmass. The quartz grains are from 0.2 to 0.5 mm in size and mostly rounded to subrounded in shape, however some of the finer grains of quartz are fractured, angular to subangular. Haematite / limonite grains are also observed (Fig. 9). At Zaluch, this subfacies is bioclast supported arenaceous-dolomitic micrite. The very fine-grained micrite forms the groundmass. The micrite is being dolomitized forming very small rhombs of size from 0.05 to 0.08 mm. Kaolinite and limonite are admixed with micrite groundmass.


The lithology of the Hangu Formation varies both laterally and vertically throughout the Salt Range. The lower part of the Hangu Formation is predominantly laterite / bauxite / kaolinite lithofacies-I, which is overlain by lithofacies-2 (shales / clays), lithofacies-3 (shales, siltstone and sandstone), lithofacies-3a (unfossiliferous limestone), lithofacies-4 (fine-grained sandstone) and lithofacies-5 (arenaceous, bioclast supported limestone). Like numerous research workers (Entezari, 2012; Wang et al. 2011; Zarasvandi, et al.2008; Al-Juboury, 2007; Cingolani et al., 2003; Raymond, 1995), the results of their microscopic study, XRD analysis and field observations have been used to interpret the paleoweathering, genesis, provenance and depositional environments of the Hangu Formation.

Origin of Constituting Minerals in Lithofacies of the Hangu Formation Lithofacies-I (laterite / bauxite / kaolinite): The petrographic results show that the principal clay minerals include kaolinite (50-65 (Percent) , boehmite (40-50 (Percent) , gibbsite (upto 30 (Percent) , neoformed clay (chamosite upto15 (Percent) and iron rich clay (glauconite 9-15 (Percent) alongwith nacrite / clinochlore (upto 85 (Percent) at Kalra Wahan) and chlorite (upto 5 (Percent) . The detrital minerals are identified as muscovite (2 (Percent) , feldspar, anatase (2-4 (Percent) and quartz (3-5 (Percent) , whereas cementing material is comprised of clay minerals, calcite, gypsum and quartz alongwith diagenetic haematite/ goethite / limonite material.

Kaolinite clay group, including kaolinite, gibbsite, boehmite, dickite and nacrite, is abundantally present in laterite / bauxite facies of the study area. These minerals might owe to the decomposition and prolonged leaching of feldspar, micaceous, chloritic and other Al- rich silicates in igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks under humid tropical conditions (Murray, 2007; Johnson, 2000; Kerr, 1971). Further leaching of silicates from soil at higher temperature had converted its kaolinite component to gibbsite.

The presence of chamosite indicated near shore marine environment under weakly oxidizing to mildly reducing conditions, which was further supported by the dickite content of laterite exposed at Dhak Pass in the Western Salt Range (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008 and Greensmith, 1989).

The Glauconite, constituting upto 15 (Percent) of laterite facies in Kalra Wahan and Arara-17 localities was formed in shallow marine sediments (sandstones, clays, carbonate rocks, and phosphorite layers) of mainly near- shore zones of sea. (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008; Deer, et al.1986; Van-Houtern and Purucker, 1984).

Muscovite was present in laterite of Saloi and Arara-17 sites and clay clasts of lithofacies-1 at Zaluch locality. The origin of muscovite might owe to the weathering of ferromagnesian minerals of basic source rocks, and the weathered material was transported and deposited in the laterite / bauxite / kaolinite rock unit of the study area (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008; Prothero and Schwab, 1996 and Greensmith, 1989).

The goethite / haematite was extremely fine- grained, and was normally present as admixed intergranular cement in all samples of laterite / bauxite lithofacies-1. The presence of diagenetic goethite / haematite as cement or as coating of zoned and goethite- ooids showed a highly oxygenated and warm shallow water environment (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008).

The occurrence of quartz grains of sand to clay size in the laterite / bauxite zones could be due to harder nature of the quartz, and its origin might owe to the igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary source rocks (Greensmith, 1989).

Anatase, a polymorph of rutile, was found as cryptocrystalline detrital mineral in almost every lithofacies of the Hangu Formation. It could either be derived from pre-existing igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary rocks (allogenic) or occur as a residual (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008). The presence of anatase in the laterite/bauxite horizons indicated prevalence of reducing conditions during the formation of laterite / bauxite (Ozlu, 1983).

Lithofacies-2 comprised of shale / clays, developed only in the Eastern Salt Range at Saloi (M-1/4-09) and Wehali Zirin (M-2/4-09) sites, had quartz (10 (Percent) and 20 (Percent) , kaolinite (60 (Percent) and 70 (Percent) , haematite / goethite (9 (Percent) and 11 (Percent) , chamosite (5 (Percent) and 6 (Percent) and muscovite flakes were (6 (Percent) only in the Saloi and around (3 (Percent) anatase was observed at Wehali Zirin. The constituting minerals of lithofacies-2 have same origin as is discussed under lithofacies-1.

Lithofacies-3 consisted of terrigenous sandstone, silty sandstone, siltstone, silty shale and shales. A logarithmic plot of Na2O/K2O and SiO2/Al2O3 ratios of 20 samples of lithofacies-3 and 4 of the Hangu Formation showed that the lithofacies were predominantly quartz arenite with subordinate quartz litharenite to sub-litharenite (Fig. 10).

The results of petrographic study of the lithofacies-3 demonstrated that the quartz was in the range of 50 to 88 (Percent) in addition to muscovite flakes (0-2 (Percent) , plagioclase and microcline grains (2 (Percent) and the rock fragments (about 1 (Percent) could be derived from Sargodha Karana Hills of Indian shield (Shah, 2009; Qureshi, et al.,2006).

The presence of glauconite (around 2-17 (Percent) and chamosite (about 2-5 (Percent) in the lithofacies-3 may reflect the near-shore marine depositional environment under oxidizing to mildly reducing conditions (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008; Baruah and Gogoi, 2004).

Two types of cementing material in the quartz arenite, quartz litharenite and sublitharenite of lithofacies-3 may be due to the chemical weathering of iron bearing minerals of parent rocks (igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic) in the oxidizing conditions. Whereas the authigenic calcite cement could be precipitated chemically in the interstices of grains. The presence of cementing materials (haematite and limonite) may support the semiclosed supersaturated tidal-flats, tidal-mats or lagoonal to shallow marine depositional environment (Nichols, 2009; Raymond, 1995; Prothero and Schwab, 1996; Greensmith, 1989).

Lithofacies-3a: The petrographic data of lithofacies-3a showed the predominance of micrite (60 - 80 (Percent) , followed by the occurrence of dolomite (ranging between 8-15 (Percent) . The formation of micrite could be either due to in place formation of fine-grained calcite in limestone triggered by biochemical and chemical factors, or owe to the chemical precipitation triggered by salinity and water temperature at the sea bottom or within sediment (Reitner, et al., 1995; Folk, 1959). The presence of micrite may reflect the low-energy depositional environment, and the formation of microsparite in the micrite mass is interpreted as the recrystallization of calcium carbonate rich circulating solutions rich in the open spaces (Flugel, 2010).

The dolomite crystals are may be formed either due to marine environment changing from deep to shallow water with increasing salinity (Murray, 2007; Folk and Lands, 1975), or may owe to secondary diagenetic processes of dolomitization initiated shortly after the deposition (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008; Al-Aasm,2003; Baker and Kastiner 1988).

Lithofacies-4 comprised of sandstone of glass grade at Kathwai and sub-bituminous to lignite grade coal bed appeared at the base. The sandstone at Dhak Pass was predominantly calcareous, and yellowish speckled upper part of sandstone was due to iron enrichment (Greensmith, 1989).

The petrographic analyses showed that the lithofacies-4 was mainly quartz arenite and quartz litharenite to sublitharenite. The quartz was estimated to be in the range of 50-98 (Percent) . The glass grade quartz arenite contained quartz around 95 (Percent) in Kathwai and in 98 (Percent) at Zaluch. The quartz grains in addition to muscovite (2 (Percent) and plagioclase / orthoclase / microcline 3 (Percent) in the lithofacies-4 could be derived from Sargodha Karana Hills basement rocks of Indian Plate, which were composed of quartzite, siltstone, shale, granodiorite, rhyolite, decite present in decreasing order (Shah, 2009; Qureshi, et al., 2006).

The authigenic kaolinite contents varied in the range from 1-10 (Percent) of lithofacies-4 might owe to decomposition of feldspar, mica and Al-rich silicates of source rocks and their residual deposits under humid conditions (Murray, 2007; Zhurkov, et al., 1962).

The cement was haematite / limonite, which varied in the range of 4-35 (Percent) , and in the quartz arenite and quartz litharenite of lithofacies-4 was developed due to chemical weathering of iron bearing minerals of the Karana Hills basement source rocks under the oxidizing conditions. The cementing materials indicate supersaturated tidal-flats, tidal-mats or lagoonal to shallow marine depositional environments (Nichols,2009; Raymond, 1995; Prothero and Schwab, 1996; Greensmith, 1989).

The carbonaceous (coal) material in the range around (40-90 (Percent) at the base of glass grade quartz arenite at Kathwai could be due to transformation of vegetation in deltaic marshy or swampy area under partly reducing conditions (Prothero and Schwab, 1996; Raymond,1995).

Lithofacies-5 appeared from Central to Western Salt Range, as arenaceous, micritic and bioclastic limestone near Kathwai was consisted of chalky argillaceous limestone in the Western Salt Range.

The petrographic and XRD results showed the prevalence of micrite (30-85 (Percent) in the lithofacies. The formation of micrite could be either due to in place formation of fine-grained calcite in limestone triggered by biochemical and chemical factors, or owe to the chemical precipitation triggered by salinity and water temperature at the sea bottom or within sediment (Reitner, et al., 1995; Folk, 1959). The occurrence of micrite was an indicator of low-energy and shallow water depositional environment (Flugel, 2010).

The detrital quartz grains in the range of 7-62 (Percent) , might owe their origin to Karana Hills basement source rocks of Indian shield, which were reworked during transportation before deposition in shallow marine environment (Shah, 2009; Nichols, 2009; Qureshi, et al.,2006).

Kaolinite (3-15 (Percent) , a secondary mineral, seemed to be formed under submarine oxidizing conditions due to weathering and hydrothermal alteration of feldspar, mica and Al-rich silicates in igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic source rocks (Wenk and Bullakh, 2008; Klein and Hurlbut, 1986).

The haematite and limonite (ranging between 5-18 (Percent) could also be formed due to the chemical weathering of magnetite of source rocks under oxidizing shallow marine environment (Wenk and Bulakh, 2008).

Conclusions: Following conclusions are drawn from this study.

* Five lithofacies of the Hangu Formation were identified in the Salt Range. The lithofacies are named as lithofacies-I (laterite / bauxite / kaolinite), lithofacies-2 (shale/ clays), lithofacies-3 (shale / siltstone and sandstone), lithofacies-3a (unfossiliferous dolomitic limestone), lithofacies-4 (fine-grained sandstone) and lithofacies-5 (arenaceous bioclast supported limestone).

* The petrographic and XRD results of the lithofacies-I indicated oolitic / pisolitic texture of laterite/ bauxite / kaolinite. The presence of authigenic minerals like kaolinite, gibbsite, boehmite and dickite may owe to the decomposition and prolonged moderate to intense insitu leaching of alumino-silicates present in Mesozoic rocks andpart of Permian rocks. The allochthonous minerals (chamosite, glauconite, chlorite and nacrite / clinochlore) could be due to the influx of shallow marine water into the passive continental depositional basin.

* The subaerial emergence of the area was followed by subsidence, and the laterite / bauxite / kaolinite horizons were preserved by deposition of terrigenous material such as shales / clays (lithofacies-2).These shales / clays be formed in fresh water lagoon / estuary or delta front depositional basin, in which chamosite was formed under weakly oxidizing to mildy reducing conditions.

* The abundance of quartz grains (90 (Percent) and sporadic occurrence of muscovite flakes, feldspar grains and rock fragments in lithofacies-3 and lithofacies-4 were possibly derived from quartzites, siltstone, shales, granodiorite, rhyolite and dacite of Sargodha Karana Highs of Indian shield. The chamosite and glauconite minerals in these lithofacies reflect the near-shore marine depositional environment. The haematite / limonite cementing material may be formed due to the chemical weathering of parent rocks in the semiclosed supersaturated tidal-flats tidal-mats, lagoonal to shallow marine depositional environment.

The micrite was predominant (85 (Percent) in the lithofacies-5 with subordinate detrital quartz, micro fossils and locally reworked shell fragments in addition to kaolinite as secondary mineral. The micrite may owe to the biochemical precipitation of fine-grained calcite in low energy depositional environment. The secondary mineral kaolinite seemed to be formed due to weathering and alteration of alumino-silicates, feldspar, mica etc. of the source rocks under submarine oxidizing conditions.


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