A combined field, petrographic, fluid inclusion, and stable isotope study was undertaken in two fault zones in the eastern midcontinent of the North American craton in order to determine their fluid histories. Because both the Kentucky River fault zone in central Kentucky and the Bowling Green fault zone in northwest Ohio were active intermittently throughout much of the Paleozoic, it was thought that one or both may record the passage of the late Paleozoic brine migration that affected large portions of the eastern midcontinent. Three fluid events were recognized in calcite veins of the Kentucky River fault zone. Each tapped the same dominantly meteoric, low-salinity fluid reservoir, but at different times as the fault zone was cooling (T(h) 110??to 75??C) at relatively shallow depths (<1.0 km). Although the fluid history of the Bowling Green fault zone also reflects a general cooling (T(h) 115??to 60??C) at a shallow depth (<1.5 km), multiple fluid sources were involved. In the first fluid event, brown calcite was precipitated from a methane-rich, aqueous fluid with an immiscible petroleum phase derived from ascending fluids originating in underlying lower Paleozoic or basement units. The second fluid event is similar to the first except it lacks the petroleum phase which resulted in the precipitation of white, rather than brown, calcite. The third event precipitated calcite from a mixture of vertically and horizontally flowing brines. The youngest event resulted in little or no additional mineralization and is recorded by secondary fluid inclusions in preexisting veins. The fluid source is probably meteoric or seawater. From the characteristics of each fluid event, it is concluded that only the Bowling Green fault zone appears to contain evidence for the late Paleozoic regional brine migration. The Kentucky River fault zone either was bypassed by the brines, had an unfavorable orientation, or did not have any permeability at the time of brine migration.
Additional publication details
Fluid migration in a cratonic setting: The fluid histories of two fault zones in the eastern midcontinent