This study examines the geochemical record of diagenesis in the Middle Permian Yates shelf, exposed in Slaughter Canyon, New Mexico. This diagenetic history significantly modified lithologies, depositional fabrics, and pore systems. Early diagenesis was dominated during sea level highstands by marine cementation and reflux dolomitization, and during sea level lowstands by meteoric cementation and stabilization—the focus of this study. This early diagenesis variably overprinted primary marine isotopic signatures, potentially leading to erroneous chemostratigraphic correlations or paleoclimate reconstructions.

Four correlative sections through one m-scale cycle were analyzed for their δ13C and δ18O values. They show significant (2–4‰) δ13C and δ18O variability in coeval, texturally well-preserved calcites. The δ13C and δ18O values of marine cements, brachiopods, bulk carbonate, micritic matrix, and the first generation of meteoric spar (from high to low values) delineate an “inverted J curve,” indicating the variable alteration of components by diagenetic fluids. Numerical models indicate that the observed stable isotope trend is most consistent with diagenetic alteration in a partially closed system by meteoric fluids mixed with a progressively diminishing contribution of recycled marine waters.

In the Yates shelf, marine cements provide a more robust primary isotopic record than micritic matrix; however, neither preserves primary seawater isotopic values. Furthermore, common criteria used to diagenetically screen samples proved inadequate (e.g., textural preservation, staining, luminescence, depletion near sequence boundaries). Instead, diagenetic resetting is resolved by analyzing multiple, closely spaced, independently correlated sections, and by delineating trends between primary and later diagenetic components in populations of isotopic data.

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