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Title: Hydrogeochemical evolution of formation waters responsible for sandstone bleaching and ore mineralization in the Paradox Basin, Colorado Plateau, USA
The Paradox Basin in the Colorado Plateau (USA) has some of the most iconic records of paleofluid flow, including sandstone bleaching and ore mineralization, and hydrocarbon, CO2, and He reservoirs, yet the sources of fluids responsible for these extensive fluid-rock reactions are highly debated. This study, for the first time, characterizes fluids within the basin to constrain the sources and emergent behavior of paleofluid flow resulting in the iconic rock records. Major ion and isotopic (δ18Owater; δDwater; δ18OSO4; δ34SSO4; δ34SH2S; 87Sr/86Sr) signatures of formation waters were used to evaluate the distribution and sources of fluids and water-rock interactions by comparison with the rock record. There are two sources of salinity in basinal fluids: (1) diagenetically altered highly evaporated paleo-seawater-derived brines associated with the Pennsylvanian Paradox Formation evaporites; and (2) dissolution of evaporites by topographically driven meteoric circulation. Fresh to brackish groundwater in the shallow Cretaceous Burro Canyon Formation contains low Cu and high SO4 concentrations and shows oxidation of sulfides by meteoric water, while U concentrations are higher than within other formation waters. Deeper brines in the Pennsylvanian Honaker Trail Formation were derived from evaporated paleo-seawater mixed with meteoric water that oxidized sulfides and dissolved gypsum and have high 87Sr/86Sr indicating interaction with radiogenic siliciclastic minerals. Upward migration of reduced (hydrocarbon- and H2S-bearing) saline fluids from the Pennsylvanian Paradox Formation along faults likely bleached sandstones in shallower sediments and provided a reduced trap for later Cu and U deposition. The distribution of existing fluids in the Paradox Basin provides important constraints to understand the rock record over geological time.  more » « less
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GSA Bulletin
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National Science Foundation
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