This study examines the porosity of limestones and dolomites in the South Florida basin. Porosity data are derived from borehole-gravity measurements and from suites of acoustic, neutron, and density logs. Both types of wire-line measurements sample large volumes of rock relative to petrographic methods and can be examined at vertical scales approaching those of aquifers and hydrocarbon reservoirs. Investigation depths range from the surface to about 18,000 ft (5,500 m) and span the transition from high-porosity near-surface carbonate sediments of Pleistocene age to much denser Mesozoic carbonate rocks with porosities of only a few percent.

Carbonate porosity in the South Florida basin was affected by a variety of diagenetic processes. However, a number of factors that could complicate porosity-depth relations are of limited importance in southern Florida. The basin contains little clastic material; present depths of burial are about equal to maximum depths of burial; the influences of tectonism, geopressures, and hydrocarbon accumulations are minimal.

Curves of porosity versus depth, reflecting large-scale porosity-loss processes in the subsurface, are derived for a composite carbonate section and for carbonate strata of different ages and compositions. The decrease of porosity with depth for a composite carbonate section representing a wide range of depositional environments and subsequent diagenetic histories can be characterized by the exponential function ϕ = 41.73e-z/8197 (ft) [ϕ = 41.73e-z/2498 (m)], where ϕ is the porosity (%) and z is the depth below ground level (feet or meters). Average porosity is reduced by a factor of two in a depth interval of about 5,700 ft (1,740 m).

Carbonate strata of different ages that are buried to equal depths show no systematic porosity differences. This implies that the effect of time on porosity in these rocks is probably subordinate to that of burial depth. The data also show a faster than expected rate of porosity decrease with depth for rocks of Eocene age and younger. If it is assumed that the decrease in the volume of evaporites in these rocks indicates less saline pore fluids, porosity loss in shallow-water carbonates may be inversely related to the magnesium content of pore waters.

Dolomite porosity is lower than limestone porosity in the near surface, but does not decrease as rapidly with depth. Below about 5,600 ft (1,700 m), dolomite is more porous than limestone. It is hypothesized that most dolomitization occurred relatively early and either reduced original porosity or selectively favored lower-porosity limestones. With continued burial, dolomite was more resistant than limestone to associated porosity-reducing effects.

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