Characterization and Origin of Basalt-Derived Carnelian in the Mesozoic Newark Basin, New Jersey, USA

Richard A. Volkert, Matthew L. Gorring, William H. Peck, Scott D. Stanford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carnelian occurs locally in New Jersey in the Newark basin as medium- to coarse-size pebbles in fluvial gravel and alluvium and colluvium formed from erosion of Lower Jurassic Preakness Basalt. Vesicles and molds of glauberite are preserved on lower surfaces and botryoidal textures on the upper surfaces of some pieces. The microstructure consists of length-fast chalcedony characterized by parallel fibrous bundles overlain by repetitive, wavy extinction bands. Only peaks of ɑ-quartz and minor moganite are recognized in X-ray diffraction patterns. Carnelian contains 97–98 wt.% SiO2, ~1.0 wt.% Fe2O3, and 1.0–1.4 wt.% LOI; other major elements are <0.1 wt.%. Trace element abundances are low except for Y, Nb, Ta, W, Th, and U. Rare earth element (REE) patterns display heavy REE enrichment and large negative Eu anomalies. Most trace elements were mobilized from Proterozoic sources, whereas Si was likely derived from the alteration of basaltic glass in the Preakness. Carnelian δ18OVSMOW values are high and range from +18.3 to +31.2‰, comparable to global occurrences of volcanic rock-derived chalcedony. We propose that carnelian precipitated in the first Preakness flow from the mixing of hydrothermal fluid with meteoric water under conditions of low temperature (20–80 °C) and neutral to slightly alkaline pH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1249
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Mesozoic Newark basin
  • Preakness Basalt
  • carnelian
  • moganite
  • oxygen isotopes


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