Environmental Earth Sciences

, 78:540 | Cite as

Naturally occurring asbestos in an alpine ophiolitic complex (northern Corsica, France)

  • Didier LahondèreEmail author
  • Florence Cagnard
  • Guillaume Wille
  • Jéromine Duron
Original Article


This paper provides a field description and an analytical characterization of the fibrous minerals associated with ultrabasic and basic rocks from the Corsican Ophiolitic Complex, on the island of Corsica, in order to examine their asbestos potential. Thirty-five fibrous samples taken from serpentinites, magnesium-rich meta-gabbros and meta-basalts were studied, using combined EPMA, Ramanand FESEM methods. The results highlight that naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) are abundant in serpentinites and regularly occur in magnesium-rich meta-gabbros and meta-basalts in northern Corsica. The spatial distribution, abundance and mineralogical types of these NOA strongly depend on the petrographic nature of the hosting rocks and their structural pattern. NOA in serpentinites correspond to chrysotile vein networks in the internal parts of the thickest rocky masses and to tremolite veins and shear planes carrying tremolite fibers, both in the external parts of these masses and in highly sheared serpentinites within or close to tectonic contacts. NOA in highly deformed magnesium-rich meta-gabbros are associated with the opening and filling of albite–tremolite veins, associated with the syntectonic boudinage of the most competent meta-gabbros. In the meta-basalts, NOA are associated with late metamorphic, actinolite-bearing polymineralic veins cross-cutting the foliation planes. Fragments and pebbles of serpentinites, meta-gabbros and meta-basalts containing NOA are also present in colluvium, scree and alluvium resulting from erosion processes. Special attention should be paid to serpentinites and/or magnesium-rich meta-gabbros-bearing colluvium in which fibrous occurrences of tremolite regularly evolved into whitish clusters consisting of very long, easily separable, flexible and entangled fibers with a higher asbestos potential. The characterization of NOA in the COC serpentinites, meta-gabbros and meta-basalts leads us to consider them as hazardous materials. As these lithologies are very abundant within the whole structural edifice, they may be regularly impacted by development or construction work and thus require suitable monitoring.


Ophiolite Actinolite Tremolite Chrysotile Asbestos Vein Northern Corsica France 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Directorate-General for Risk Prevention of the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, the BRGM and the Corsican Environmental Office for discussions and for their financial support. We thank Bradley Van Gosen for constructive comments that have been helpful to clarify and improve this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Didier Lahondère
    • 1
    Email author
  • Florence Cagnard
    • 1
  • Guillaume Wille
    • 1
  • Jéromine Duron
    • 1
  1. 1.B.R.G.M.Orléans Cedex 2France

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