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Tectonic compression has created abnormally high pressure on deep basinal fluids causing their expulsion from areally exposed Upper Cretaceous rock along the eastern margin of the California Coast ranges. The fluids emerge as near-neutral, perennial sodium chloride springs at high elevations with flow rates as high as 10 L per min. Higher spring discharges are more common around the exposure of a west-vergent fault propagation fold axis. Spring waters range from ~1000 to 27,000 mg/L TDS. The least saline water (??18O = -7.5???) closely represents local meteoric water that mixes with saline fluid (??18O = +5.3???) and forms a slope of ~3.5 on a ??D vs. ??18O plot. A Na (125 to 8000 mg/L) vs. Cl (150 to 17,000 mg/L) plot shows a linear dilution trend that extends close to, but below, the values for modern seawater. Calcium (75-3000 mg/L) is considerably enriched relative to seawater and forms a nonlinear trend with chloride. In detail, the "Na deficit," defined by the difference between the measured Na content and the Na concentration on a hypothetical seawater dilution line, is approximately balanced by the Ca excess, similarly defined by the seawater dilution line. This relationship strongly suggests that the fluid is diluted seawater that is being modified by active albitization of plagioclase at different depths. Simultaneous B and 18O enrichment of the fluids, accompanied by deuterium depletion, further suggest that the seawater modification is influenced by clay diagenesis. Bicarbonate and SiO2 concentrations show an inverse correlation with Cl, with most waters being saturated or slightly oversaturated with calcite and quartz at the discharge temperatures. Some freshwater springs with near-meteoric stable isotope values may represent mixing of young groundwater from perched aquifers, but in many cases, the freshwater springs emerge along the same structures and have the same perennial nature as the saline fluids, and expulsion of an older fresh groundwater component that is under abnormal fluid pressures cannot be ruled out. Basinal fluids elsewhere commonly show dilution trends with local meteoric water, and in the case of the Rumsey Hills, some of the dilute saline waters may indicate deep penetration of meteoric water (> 1 km) in the Pleistocene before the latest tectonic uplift. Geothermometry of the spring waters (maximum ~90??C) suggest an origin from as deep as 4.0 km. This depth is consistent with the depth of the core of a fault propagation anticline below the surface of the Rumsey Hills developed by active internal deformation of an east-tapering wedge beneath the southwestern Sacramento Valley. Active tectonic compression causes near-lithostatic fluid pressures in the shallow subsurface below the Rumsey Hills and volume strain within the core of the anticline that results in upward expulsion of the saline fluids from the indicated depths. ?? 1994.
Additional Publication Details
Geochemistry of tectonically expelled fluids from the northern Coast ranges, Rumsey Hills, California, USA