This research illustrates a new approach for paleobarometry employing heterogeneously entrapped fluid inclusions to determine timing and depth of diagenesis. Heterogeneously entrapped fluid inclusions (gas + water) in vug-filling quartz from the Upper Ordovician Viola Formation in the Midcontinent of the United States were analyzed for their internal pressure with a fluid-inclusion crushing stage. The free gas in fluid inclusions was entrapped at near-surface temperature, as indicated by the presence of all-liquid fluid inclusions and fluid inclusions with low homogenization temperatures ( <40??C). Crushing the crystal and measuring the change in bubble size determines the pressure of entrapment directly. Heterogeneous trapping is indicated by widely varying L:V ratios, from all-liquid to vapor-rich. Gas bubbles in most fluid inclusions analyzed expanded upon release to atmospheric pressure, but some collapsed. A mode of 1.5 to 2.0 atm internal pressure was indicated by the crushing runs, but pressures up to 42.9 atm were recorded. Quartz precipitation and associated fluid-inclusion entrapment therefore occurred over a wide depth-range, but principally at depths of approximately 10 m. Crushing runs done in kerosene confirmed the presence of hydrocarbon gases in most of these inclusions, and bulk analyses of gases in the quartz by quadrupole mass spectrometer revealed methane, ethane, and atmospheric gases. The hydrocarbon gases may have originated in deeper thermogenically mature sedimentary strata, and then leaked to the near-surface where they were entrapped in the precipitating quartz cement. Freezing data indicate an event of quartz precipitation from fluids of marine-fresh water intermediate salinity and other events of precipitation from more saline fluids. Considering the determined pressures, the precipitating fluids probably originated at surfaces of subaerial exposure (unconformities) and surfaces of evaporite precipitation in the overlying Silurian strata. Thus, saline inclusions most likely originated from sinking of saline surface waters during Silurian time. Lower-salinity fluids record fluxes of meteoric water during development of unconformities in the Silurian. This type of paleobarometric study may have application in many other sedimentary systems, provided low-temperature and heterogeneous entrapment of an immiscible gas phase can be demonstrated for the fluid-inclusion assemblages studied.
Additional publication details
A new technique for surface and shallow subsurface paleobarometry using fluid inclusions: An example from the Upper Ordovician Viola Formation, Kansas, USA