Clumped isotope evidence for episodic, rapid flow of fluids in a mineralized fault system in the Peak District, UK

Paul Frederick Dennis, Daniel J Myhill, Alina D Marca, Ruth Kirk

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We have used clumped isotope thermometry to study a fault-hosted hydrothermal calcite vein associated with the Mississippi Valley Type (MVT) mineralization on the Derbyshire Platform in the southern Pennines, UK. This is the first published dataset obtained using a new mass spectrometer, MIRA, optimized for clumped isotope analysis and an associated clumped isotope-temperature calibration. We analysed multiple generations of vein growth at high spatial resolution in two transects across the vein. The vein grew episodically at temperatures between 40 and 100°C. We interpret each episode of growth as being associated with an increasing flux of formation waters from deep sedimentary basins next to the mineralized platform and an accompanying increase in the precipitation temperatures. Heat is conserved in the fluid as it ascends along the fault surface and, thus, flow must have been fast and restricted to short-lived pulses. The flux could have been driven by high pore pressures associated with rapid sedimentation, hydrocarbon generation and diagenesis in the basinal facies of the Visean Bowland-Hodder group. Natural hydraulic fracturing of shale units and failure of capillary seals, possibly triggered by uplift, allowed the release of fluids into aquifers within the sediment pile. The transmission of high pore fluid pressures from the shales to the fault zone, aided by the compressibility of the gas phase in two-phase pore fluids, may have resulted in fault rupture, accompanied by enhanced fracture permeability and rapid fluid flow. Vein growth ceased as pore pressures dissipated. Such behaviour is closely related to a seismic valve type model for mineralization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-461
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number3
Early online date23 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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