Alteration of fossil-bearing shale (Autun, France; Permian), part II : monitoring artificial and natural ageing by combined use of S and Ca K-edge XANES analysis, Rock-Eval pyrolysis and FTIR analysis
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Annales de paléontologie. - Barcelone
, p. 225-239
University of Antwerp
Fossil-bearing shale specimens that include sulfides in their compositions are chemically reactive and sometimes also mechanically fragile. This decay is often related to iron sulfate efflorescence resulting from the oxidation of sulfide compounds. The processes underlying these degradations are poorly known, thus impeding the elaboration of curative or preventive treatments. The present contribution aims to identify the origin of museum specimen alterations. It focuses on the Flouest collection housed at the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN, Paris, France) and originating from the Autun Basin (Saone-et-Loire, France, Permian). To evaluate the alteration of MNHN specimens, it appeared necessary to compare their composition with that of unaltered shale so as to identify chemical changes occurring during ageing. Therefore, new material was collected in the Autun Basin, among others on the locality of Muse that corresponds to the same lithostratigraphic unit as that of the MNHN specimens. This material was, if necessary, artificially aged. The first part of this work, presented elsewhere, deals with the use of Xray diffraction and Mossbauer spectroscopy for characterizing iron reactivity and speciation. It leads to the conclusion that the reactivity of iron in the shale matrix was limited and could not account for the large efflorescence of iron (II) sulfate occurring nearby the fossil. The second part presented here focuses on the use of S K-edge X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES) spectroscopy for characterizing sulfur speciation and reactivity. Measurements were performed on the shale matrix and on thin layers of maceral found in the proximity of damaged areas. As sulfur may be found in association with calcium or organic matter, complementary techniques were implemented, such as FTIR spectroscopy, Rock-Eval pyrolysis (characterization of organic matter content) and Ca K-edge XANES (analysis of calcium speciation) spectroscopy. It was shown that sulfur is mainly related to thioether, sulfoxide, iron sulfide, and sulfates whereas calcium is mainly bound to carboxylate, carbonate and/or sulfate groups. FTIR analysis of the macerals confirmed the presence of vitrinite on damaged MNHN specimens. The low oxygen content of new shale samples determined by Rock-Eval pyrolysis indicates that the organic matter is well preserved, despite the fact that samples come from outcrop surface. In the newly collected material, sulfur is mainly related to organic sulfides (thioether) with a minor occurrence of iron sulfide. In the shale fraction of damaged MNHN specimens, sulfur is mostly oxidized into a mixture of iron and calcium sulfate. However, in the vitrinite layers of the same specimens, a large proportion of sulfur corresponds to organic sulfides. Also the oxidation of sulfur does not occur homogeneously but preferentially in the shale fraction, probably because this latter is porous whereas vitrinite is not. Artificial ageing of new shale material showed that the oxidation of organic sulfides could be reproduced at 90 degrees C, 80% of relative humidity. However, the obtained efflorescence almost exclusively corresponds to calcium sulfate whereas iron (II) sulfates are mostly observed on MNHN specimens. The new material collected on site is probably to be questioned, and future studies will have to select new samples with fossil remains. This will be the object of the third part of this work. (C) 2015 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.