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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Deciphering the diagenetic history of the El Abra Formation of eastern Mexico using reordered clumped isotope temperatures and U-Pb dating

  • Author(s): Lawson, M
  • Shenton, BJ
  • Stolper, DA
  • Eiler, JM
  • Rasbury, ET
  • Becker, TP
  • Phillips-Lander, CM
  • Buono, AS
  • Becker, SP
  • Pottorf, R
  • Gray, GG
  • Yurewicz, D
  • Gournay, J
  • et al.

Published Web Location

© 2017 Geological Society of America. Carbonates form ubiquitously throughout the history of deposition, burial, and uplift of basins. As such, they potentially record the environmental conditions at the time of formation. Carbonate clumped isotopes provide the temperature of precipitation but can be internally reordered if the host rock is exposed to elevated temperatures over geologic time scales. Here, we exploited this kinetic behavior by analyzing multiple generations of cements that capture the range of environments experienced by the El Abra Formation from eastern Mexico. From this, we developed a quantitative diagenetic history for these different phases of cementation. We observed a 70 °C range in clumped isotope temperatures from 64 °C to 134 °C for these cements, which is not compatible with their inferred precipitation environments. This suggests that bond reordering occurred during burial but did not fully reorder all cements to a common apparent temperature. We reconstructed original cement growth temperatures and the isotopic signature of the parent fluids to show that precipitation from a marine pore fluid began at 125 Ma, contemporaneous with deposition, and continued throughout burial to temperatures of at least 138 °C at 42 Ma. We show that precipitation of equant cements, which occluded 90% of the pore space, was coincident with Laramide-related burial to depths greater than 3800 m. A U-Pb age of diagenetic calcite of 77.1 ± 3.6 Ma provides independent support for our estimates of the absolute timing of precipitation of two distinct phases of the paragenesis. This is the first demonstration of the utility of integrating U-Pb age dating with reordered clumped isotope temperatures to provide quantitative constraints on the time-temperature history of cementation. Such information may ultimately lead to advances in our understanding of the formational environments and geological processes that drive diagenesis in carbonates for temperatures below the clumped isotope "blocking temperature".

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