Origin of salt-enriched pore fluids in the northern Gulf of Mexico

Reitz, A.; Haeckel, M.; Wallmann, K.; Hensen, C.; Heeschen, K.. 2007 Origin of salt-enriched pore fluids in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 259 (3-4). 266-282.

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Pore fluids from the Green Canyon Block in the northern Gulf of Mexico show distinct differences with respect to element concentrations and oxygen, hydrogen, and strontium isotope signatures. The shallowest of the three investigated sites (GC185 or Bush Hill at 540 m water depth) is interpreted as a seafloor piercing mud mound and the two deeper areas (GC415 East and West at 950 and 1050 m water depth) as gas vent and oil seep sites. All three locations accommodate near-surface gas hydrates and the sediment surface is populated with chemosynthetic communities. They are characterized by a distinct increase in salinity with depth. However, the origin of this increasing salinity is different for the GC415 sites and Bush Hill and the depth source of the fluids is considerably different for all sites. The more saline fluids of the GC415 sites result from the dissolution of halite by formation water from two different sources. The fluids of GC415 East have most likely a deeper origin (early Cenozoic or even Mesozoic) and experienced elevated temperatures leading to mineral/water reactions including mineral transformations (e.g. smectite to illite transformation) and dissolution (e.g. feldspar dissolution). This process is expressed by the heavier oxygen isotope values and distinct Li, Sr, and Ca enrichments. The fluids of GC415 West have a shallower origin which is expressed by a smaller enrichment in Li, Sr, and Ca and lighter oxygen isotopes. The fluids from Bush Hill are less saline and its fluid signature indicates intensive water/mineral interaction. Oxygen and hydrogen isotope values as well as Na/Cl and Br/Cl molar ratios suggest that the salt enrichment was caused by phase separation under sub-critical conditions. A simple heat flow model simulation suggests that sub-critical phase separation may have occurred at a depth of 1650 m at 350 °C.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0012-821X
Additional Keywords: Gulf of Mexico; saline pore fluids; geochemistry; isotope geochemistry; water/rock interaction; phase separation
Date made live: 05 Dec 2007 +0 (UTC)

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