Chapter 7. The Role of the Geologist in Sulfide Problems: The Irish Experience

$39.50

Peter Strogen
Consultant Geologist, Coromandel, New Zealand

Part of the book: Pyrite and Pyrrhotite: Managing the Risks in Construction Materials and New Applications

Abstract

This chapter gives a brief survey of where pyrite, and equally deleterious sulphides marcasite and pyrrhotite, might be found in rocks used as aggregate and as foundations, emphasizing that geological advice should be sought in advance of any project utilising or excavating rocks. As a result of over 50 years work in NE America, both Canada and the USA and work by mining companies extracting pyritic ores, we now have a fair idea of (a) how oxidation of pyrite and other sulfides occurs. It is brought about by water and oxygen, of which there is sufficient of both present in most environments to accomplish this completely; the grain size of the sulfide, and its trace element chemistry are controls on the rate of oxidation, and (b) textural controls – mainly the distribution of sulfide and carbonate through the rock – determine whether oxidation leads to or does not lead to expansion and heave. Sulfate attack on concrete and reinforcing steel will occur regardless. The second part of this chapter concentrates on the Irish situation, examining Dublin geology and the good aggregates it can provide, and others used that are clearly unsatisfactory. The legislation that has evolved with our geological/engineering knowledge is discussed in the light of continuing social problems caused by the “pyrite affair”. Finally, it is suggested that expansion tests (under internationally agreed conditions) should be used to test aggregates, and to “clear” long established sources that are suitable for use despite significant pyrite contents. It should never be forgotten that the real victims here are the purchasers of the homes and apartments – many of whom cannot sell or re-mortgage their homes since the backfills under their floors have been condemned.

Keywords: sulfides, pyrite oxidation, heave, Dublin, aggregate


References


Abrehem, A. Y. (2007). Reactivity of alum and black shale in the Oslo region. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Oslo, Norway, 95pp.
Antun, P. (1967). Sedimentary pyrite and its metamorphism in the Oslo region. Norsk Geologisk Tidsskrift, 47, 211-235.
Berner, Z. A., Puchelt, H., Noltner, T. and Kramer, U. (2013). Pyrite geochemistry in the Toarcian Posidonia
Shale of south-west Germany: evidence for contrasting trace-element patterns of diagenetic and
syngenetic pyrites. Sedimentology, 60, 548-573.
BRE. (1979). Fill and hardcore. BRE Digest 222. British Research Establishment, HMSO, London.
BSI. (1991). Testing Aggregates. BS 812 (in various parts and issue dates), British Standards Institution, London.
Carpenter, R. E. (1974). Pyrrhotite Isograd in Southeastern Tennessee and Southwestern North Carolina.
Geological Society of America Bulletin, 85, 451-456.
Caruccio, F. T. (1972). Trace element distribution in reactive and inert pyrite. Proceedings of the 4th Symposium
on Coal Mine Drainage, Pittsburg, 48-54.
Clayton, G., Haughey, N., Sevastopulo, G. D. and Burnett T. R. (1989). Thermal maturation levels in the
Devonian and Carboniferous rocks of Ireland. Geological Survey of Ireland, 36pp.
Craig, J. R. and Vokes, F. M. (1993). The metamorphism of pyrite and pyritic ores: an overview. Mineralogical
Magazine, 57, 3-18.
Dogherty, M. T. and Barsotti, N. J. (1972). Structural Damage and potentially expansive sulfide minerals.
Bulletin of the Association of Engineering Geologists, 9, No 2, 105 –125.
Eden, M. (2014). Testing of potentially pyritiferous material. In: Hawkins, A. B (Ed.). Implications of pyrite
oxidation for engineering works. Springer International Publishing, 107-132.
Grattan-Bellew, P. E. and Eden, W. J. (1975). Concrete deterioration and floor heave due to biogeochemical
weathering of underlying shale. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 12, 372-381.
Hawkins, A. B. (2012). Sulfate heave: a model to explain the rapid rise of ground – bearing floor slabs. Bulletin
of Engineering Geology and the Environment, 71, 113-117.
Hawkins, A. B. and St. John, T. W. (2014). Iron sulfides and surface heating: Further engineering
considerations for the Dublin area. In: Hawkins, A.B. (Ed.). Implications of pyrite oxidation for
engineering works. Springer International Publishing, 275-307.
Hitzman, M. W. and Large, D. (1986). A review and classification of the Irish carbonate–hosted base metal
deposits. In: Andrew, C. J., Crowe, R. W. A., Finlay, S, Pennell, W. M. and Pyne, J. F. (Eds). Geology
and genesis of mineral deposits in Ireland. Irish Association for Economic Geology, 217-238.
Horng, C-S. and Roberts, A. P. (2006). Authigenic or detrital origin of pyrrhotite in sediments? Resolving a
palaeomagnetic conundrum. Earth & Planetary Science Letters, 241, 750-762.
Johnson, S. C., Raub, T. D. and Ashton, J. (2013). Mineral magnetism identifies the presence of pyrrhotite in
the Navan Zn-Pb deposit, Ireland: implications for low temperature pyrite to pyrrhotite reduction and
timing of mineralisation. 12th biennial SGA Conference, 3pp.
Jones, G. Ll. (1992). Irish Carboniferous conodonts record maturation levels and the influence of tectonism,
igneous activity and mineralization. Terra Nova, 4, 238-244.
Jones, G. Ll., Somerville, I. D. and Strogen, P. (1988). The Lower Carboniferous (Dinantian) of the Swords
area: sedimentation and tectonics in the Dublin Basin, Ireland. Geological Journal, 23, 221-248.
Khawaja, I. U. (1975). Pyrite in the Springfield coal member (V), Pittsburgh Formation, Sullivan County,
Indiana. Special Report No. 9, Geological Survey, Indiana, 1-19.
Large, R. R., Bull, S. W. and Maslennikov, V. V. (2011). A Carboniferous sedimentary source-rock model for
Carlin-type and orogenic gold deposits. Society for Economic Geologists, 106, 331-358.
Lehner, S., Savage, K., Ciobanu, M. and Cliffel, D. E. (2007). The effect of As, Co and Ni impurities on pyrite
oxidation kinetics: an electrochemical study of synthetic pyrite. Geochemica and Cosmochimica Acta, 71, 2491-2509.
Maher, M. L. J., Azzie, B., Gray, C. and Hunt, J. (2011). A large-scale laboratory swell test to establish the
susceptibility to expansion of crushed rock containing pyrite. Paper presented to the 14th Pan American
Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Toronto, Canada.
Maher, M. L. J. and Gray, C. (2014). Aggregates prone to causing pyrite-induced heave: how they can be
avoided. In: Hunger, E., Brown, T. J. and Lucas, G. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Extractive Industry
Geology Conference, EIG Conferences Ltd., 58-66.
McCabe, B. A., McKeon, E. P., Virbukiene, R. J., Mannion, P. J. and O’Connell, A. M. (2015). Pyritiferous
mudstone –siltstone: expansion rate measurement and prediction. Quarterly Journal of Engineering
Geology & Hydrology, 48, 41-54.
National Museum of Wales. (2022). Mineralogy of Wales Database. Cardiff. https://museum.wales/mineralogy-of-wales/database/.
National Roads Authority (NRA). (2000) Specification for Road Works. Manual of Contract Documents for
Road Works, Volume 1, NRA, Dublin.
Newman, A. (1998). Pyrite oxidation and museum collections: a review of theory and conservation treatments.
The Geological Curator, 6(10), 363-371.
NSAI. (2013 and 2017). Reactive pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material – Part 1: Testing and categorisation
protocol. Irish Standard I.S. 398-1:2017, National Standards Authority of Ireland, Dublin.
Penner, E., Gillot, J. E. and Eden, W. J. (1970). Investigation of heave in Billings shale by mineralogical and
biogeochemical methods. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 7, 333-338.
Penner, E,Eden,W.J. and Grattan-Bellew, P.E.(1972). Expansion of Pyritic Shales. Canadian Building Digest,
152, National Research Council of Canada.
Penner, E, Eden W. J. and Gillot, J. E. (1973). Floor heave due to biochemical weathering of shale. Proceedings of the 8
th International Conference, Soil Mechanics & Foundation Engineering, Moscow, II, 151-158.
Pickard, N. A. H., Rees, J. G., Strogen, P., Somerville, I. D. and Jones, G. Ll. (1994). Controls on the evolution
and demise of Lower Carboniferous carbonate platforms, northern margin of the Dublin Basin, Ireland.
Geological Journal, 29, 93-117.
Pugh, C. E., Hossner, L. R. and Dixon, J. B. (1984). Oxidation rate of iron sulfide affected by surface area,
morphology, oxygen concentration and automorphic bacteria. Soil Science, 137(5), 309-314.
Quigley, R. M. and Vogan, R. W. (1970). Black shale heaving at Ottawa, Canada. Canadian Geotechnical
Journal, 7, 106-112.
Rees, J. C. (1987). The Carboniferous Geology of the Boyne Valley. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Dublin.
Reid, J. M., Czerewko, M. A. and Cripps, J. C. (2005). Sulfate Specification for structural backfills. Transport
Research Laboratory Report, TRL447.
Rimstidt, J. D. and Vaughan, D. J. (2003). Pyrite oxidation: a state-of-the art assessment of the reaction
mechanism. Geochemica et Cosmochimica. Acta, 67, 873-880.
Ryskin, M. and Maher, M. L. J. (2021). The pyrite heave problem; new insights from trace-element analysis.
Géotechnique Letters, 11, 1-5.
Smith, M. R. and Collis, L. (Eds.). (1993). Aggregates. Geological Society. Engineering Geology Special
Publication 9. Geological Society of London.
S.R. 16 (2016) Guidance on the use of I.S. EN 12620:2002+A1:2008 – Aggregates for concrete. S.R. 16:2016.
National Standards Authority of Ireland, Dublin.
S. R. 21 (2016). Guidance on the use of I.S.EN 13242:2002+A1:2007. Aggregates for unbound and
hydraulically bound materials for use in civil engineering works and road construction. S.R.
21:2014+A1:2016. National Standards Authority of Ireland, Dublin. 33pp.
Strogen, P. (2021). Lithological controls on the expansion of unbound aggregates in Dublin, eastern Ireland:
two contrasting cases. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology & Hydrology, 2.
https://doi.org/10.1144/qjegh2021-054.
Strogen, P. and Somerville, I. D. (1984). The stratigraphy of Upper Palaeozoic rocks in the Lyons Hill area,
County Kildare. Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, 4, 155-173.
Sutton, D., McCabe, B., O’Connell, A. and Cripps, J. (2013). A laboratory study of the expansion of an Irish
pyritic mudstone/siltstone fill material. Engineering Geology, 152, 194-201.
Thickpenny, A. (1984). The sedimentology of the Swedish Alum shales. Geological Society, London, Special
Publication 15, 511-525.
Thomas, H. V., Large, R. R., Bull, S. W., Maslennikov, V., Berry, R. F., Fraser, R., Froud, S. and Moye, R.
(2011). Pyrite and Pyrrhotite Textures and Composition in Sediments, Laminated Quartz Veins, and Reefs
at Bendigo Gold Mine, Australia: Insights for Ore Genesis. Economic Geology, 106, 1-31.
Tuohy, B., Carroll, N. and Edgar, M. (2012). Report of the Pyrite Panel. Department of the Environment,
Community and Local Government, Government of Ireland, Dublin, 198 pp.
Wilson, E. J. (1987). Pyritic shale heave in the Lower Lias at Barry, Glamorgan. Quarterly Journal of
Engineering Geology & Hydrology, 20 (3), 251-253

Category:

Publish with Nova Science Publishers

We publish over 800 titles annually by leading researchers from around the world. Submit a Book Proposal Now!

See some of our Authors and Editors