| Glauconite in the Quilon Limestone, (Age:Burdigalian) India.
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Glauconite in the Quilon Limestone, (Age:Burdigalian) India.

Glauconite in the Quilon Limestone, (Age:Burdigalian) India.

Thrivikramji’s Glauconite story.
Glauconite is one of the minerals that is essentially a product of marine environment and entirely an authigenic mineral formed during diagenesis. The Glauconite I started on as a piece of research, when I “rejoined” the Department of Geology as Lecturer in the University of Kerala. I resigned my position as Asst. Geologist in the Mining and Geology department to join the university as a teacher. Those days the department was housed in the west wing of the first floor of the Finance department of the university. In fact 18-3-1968 was my entry to the Geology Department of the University of  Keraka.

The Glauconite is a interesting mineral and it is a clay in respect of structure and purely of marine authigenesis and hence of great repute in respect of correlating unfossiliferous sedimentary formations. The work I did with pyrite framboids, had in fact indicated the presence of green pellet all grains which were in the fine to very fine sand grade. So it was easy for me to get to the samples, and line up the laboratory to quickly launch the study.
I aggregated sufficient quantity of Glauconite, needle picked for purity and about half a gram of the stuff was safely forwarded to SV university, where then Prof. Chakrapani Naidu was presiding in the geology department. A geochemist in the department had agreed to do a chemical assay of the sample to verify whether it was Glauconite. The answer was negative. The sample had no element potassium, a critical chemical element for the sample to qualify as Glauconite.
When a portion was send to USSR, to Rajendran Nair, he too did the examination and verification of the stuff with help of a senior faculty there who too could not agree that my Glauconite indeed is Glauconite. I was not disappointed or displeased. I went back to the library and to the American Mineralogist, where one Burst had a paper or two on Glauconite, where he suggested the chlorite may occur along with typical Glauconite in the pellets which in fact are fecal pellets only. These pellets are created by the filter feeding organisms in the sea, which cast the injected micro grains of minerals into pellets. Among these the capsular pellets are commonest.
Those days like in the early 80’s a review paper on Petrology of Glauconite authored by DM Triplehorn appeared in the journal Earthscience Reviews. This paper was in fact a game changer as far as the Glauconite of Quilon limestone was concerned. This researcher divided Glauconite into four categories, of which one is mixed mineral Glauconite (it is exactly like mine) which was a great “eureka” moment for me. Then time was moving past and by the fall of 1972, I joined Syracuse University on a Fulbright Fellowship. I continued my Glauconite studies after the conclusion of my PhD and rejoining the department of geology at Kariavattom campus.
At Syracuse we were a trio in the geology department. Swapan ghosh, Ghan srivastava and me in the department. Swapan did geochemistry, Ghan computer applications and me in hydrodynamics. Swapan joined the Shiraz Univ, Iran, Ghan joined CITGO and I rejoined U of K, Kariavattom.
I then forwarded some samples of Quilon limestone to Shiraz for Swapan to do some minor and trace element chemistry. but when the results emerged Swapan was in trouble due to the revolution that brought Khomeini to Iran to the presidency. When revolution peaked in 1980 Swapan wanted to know if I can help find job somewhere in India. I immediately went and saw Prof. C . Karumnakarana, the founder Director, CESS, Trivandrum and made a strong recommendation for the case Swapan. The Director then asked me to get the biodata and in about two months Swapan’s CV was given to Director. In fact Swapan had SE job offer quickly and he joined like Dec.1980, roughly six months after my joining CESS.
Swapan had the results of analysis ready. We sat together in the late evening hours to put together a joint paper on the “Pyrite-Glauconite assemblage in the Quilon Limestone (Age: Burdigalian) from the type area etc..” It was forwarded to the Geological Society of India, Bangalore, which was promptly published without any revision in about six months from the date of submission.
 I also read a paper on the Glauconite in the Indian Sedimentologists Congress, at Banares Hindu University, in 1981.After the presentation during lunch break Dr. R.A.K.Srivastava, came to me and said it was an interesting presentation and he would like the full paper for inclusion in a book he was planning on Glauconite. My paper appeared in the book “Glauconite -form and function” that Srivastava edited and published.
There was also a nasty incident in regard to Glauconite. There was one Dr.Raha, PK in CESS and another Dr. Sinha Roy, both were from the GSI. When the manuscript that I and Swapan made was accepted for publication, this Raha-Roy team preempted our publication through another short paper that reported Glauconte for the first time to Bangalore Current Science. This happened in spite of the diligent Director’s office and Swapan more of a compatriot of Raha-Roy duo.


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  • Mohan Menon
    Posted at 20:52h, 17 March Reply

    A very interisting read indeed. As Usual!

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