Abstract

Our hydrogeologic model tests the effectiveness of brine reflux as the mechanism for early dolomitization of the Permian San Andres Formation. Brine circulation is constrained by sequence-stratigraphic parameters and a heterogeneous distribution of petrophysical properties based on outcrop data. The model simulates accumulation of the San Andres platform and calculates fluid flow and solute transport in response to relative sea level fluctuations. It tracks porosity loss caused by compaction and the concomitant permeability feedback. The amount of dolomite potentially formed is calculated by means of a magnesium mass balance between brine and rock. Results show that (1) brine reflux is an effective mechanism to deliver magnesium to dolomitize large carbonate successions; (2) relative sea level–controlled transient boundary conditions result in intricate flow and salinity patterns that can generate irregular dolomite bodies with complex spatial distributions; (3) pervasive dolomitization can result from several short-lived reflux events by the amalgamation of brine plumes sourced in different locations and times; and (4) the model successfully recreates the dolostone and limestone patterns observed in San Andres outcrops.

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