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Title: Spring origin of Eocene carbonate mounds in the Green River Formation, Northern Bridger Basin, Wyoming, USA

Modern and ancient lacustrine carbonate build‐ups provide uniquely sensitive sedimentary and geochemical records for understanding the interaction between tectonics, past climates, and local and regional scale basin hydrology. Large (metre to decametre), well‐developed carbonate mounds in the Green River Formation have long been recognized along the margins of an Eocene lake, known as Lake Gosiute. However, their mode of origin and significance with respect to palaeohydrology remain controversial. Here, new sedimentological, Sr isotope data and structural evidence show that significant spring discharge led to the formation of a decametre size complex of shoreline carbonate mounds in the upper Wilkins Peak Member of the Green River Formation at Little Mesa and adjacent areas in the Bridger Basin, Wyoming, USA. Sedimentological evidence indicates that spring discharge was predominantly subaqueous but was, at times, also subaerial, which produced tufa cascades and micro‐rimstone dam structures. The87Sr/86Sr ratios measured from these subaerial spring deposits are less radiogenic (87Sr/86Sr = 0.71040 to 0.71101) than contemporaneous palaeolake carbonates (87Sr/86Sr = 0.71195 to 0.71561) because their parent groundwaters likely interacted with less‐radiogenic Palaeozoic carbonate. Calcite‐cemented sandstone cones and spires (87Sr/86Sr = 0.71037 to 0.71057) in the Wasatch Formation directly below the spring deposits suggest that groundwaters derived from Palaeozoic carbonates preferentially flowed along thrust faults. These results imply that high spring discharge coincided with lake high stands of the upper Wilkins Peak Member, suggesting that recharge at the north‐west margin of the Bridger Basin contributed to Lake Gosiute’s water budget and lowered the salinity of an underfilled, evaporative lake basin. The findings of this study provide criteria for the recognition of groundwater discharge in palaeolake systems which may lead to the discovery of palaeospring systems in other ancient lake deposits.

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p. 2334-2364
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National Science Foundation
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