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Abstract

The purpose of this introductory chapter is to lay out a framework of concepts, approaches, and terminology for use in the account of the MacLeod evaporite basin that follows in later chapters. Some of the material in Chapter 1 has been adapted from earlier work, but it also has been necessary to develop new concepts and terms because there has been little prior investigation of marine evaporite systems based only on seepage inflow of seawater and seepage outflow of brine. Because water is the agent for import, transfer and export of salts in evaporite basin systems, the chapter focuses most strongly on hydrology and delineates simple conceptual models for both basins and intrabasinal systems and environments. It also was necessary to refine some aspects of evaporite petrology so that there could be a clearer understanding of terms applied to these materials in the book. Written with the benefit of some hindsight from the MacLeod study, Chapter 1 also is a summary. However, it is in the first part of the book rather than the last, to ease the flow of later chapters. The framework presented here will probably be useful in analysis of other evaporitic environments and also for interpreting ancient basinal evaporites.

One approach I have adopted is to model both contemporary environments and paleoenvironments as dynamic, open systems defined in terms of interrelated water and salt budgets. At a first level of analysis, I model the basin as a unit, defined in terms of overall water and salt

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