Weathering of metapelites from the Quadrilátero Ferrífero mineral province, southeastern Brazil

  • Marcio Fernandes LeãoEmail author
  • Emílio Velloso Barroso
  • Helena Polivanov
  • Eduardo Antonio Gomes Marques
  • Euripedes do Amaral VargasJr.
Original Paper


Low-grade metamorphic rocks are known for their low mechanical strength and high weatherability. In the Quadrilátero Ferrífero, an important mineral province located in southeastern Brazil, this set of features results in frequent issues with mining and road slope instability, mainly associated with phyllites. Despite the significant iron ore production that occurs in this province, little is known about the geotechnical properties of the materials constituting the weathering front. Here, we report work aimed at investigating the changes in the basic properties of phyllites at four weathering grades. The methodology used included the field classification and mapping of four weathering grades in order to assess their spatial distribution on a road slope, as well as sampling for geological characterization by petrography and X-ray diffraction (XRD). In addition, the authors performed a physical characterization of all weathering grades, including index properties, mercury porosimetry, and strength data obtained with a Schmidt hammer both in the field and in the laboratory as well as using the point load test (PLT). Results showed the relevance of structural features such as discontinuities and metamorphic foliation observed in the weathering morphology in situ, with different weathering intensities occurring along the slope. Changes in the porosity and pore size distribution in the weathering front were nonlinear, as were resistance variations. The difficulty involved in performing the macroscopic identification of weathering grades due to the very fine texture of the rock as well as microstructural heterogeneities are likely causes of the observed variability in phyllite properties. This fundamental knowledge may aid the prediction of short-term and long-term scenarios for slope stability based on rock weatherability.


Metapelite Weathering profile Phyllite Quadrilátero Ferrífero Characterization tests 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcio Fernandes Leão
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emílio Velloso Barroso
    • 1
  • Helena Polivanov
    • 1
  • Eduardo Antonio Gomes Marques
    • 2
  • Euripedes do Amaral VargasJr.
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.LEMETRO – Laboratório de Experimentos em Mecânica e Tecnologia das Rochas, Departamento de GeologiaUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Engenharia CivilUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Engenharia CivilPontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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