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Abstract

The subsurface hydrologic system of large, actively filling sedimentary basins includes meteoric, compactional, and thermobaric regimes. Boundaries between the regimes and their contained flow systems evolve as basin filling proceeds. As a result, sands are continuously flushed by a succession of fluids of varying origins and chemistries. Careful examination of the existing hydrologic setting and a reconstruction of generalized hydrologic history and its relationship to observed diagenetic features within a depositional sequence may serve to validate interpretive diagenetic models and may explain or predict paragenetic relationships, regional diagenetic variations within the same depositional episode, and differences in diagenetic products in different episodes in the same or similar basins.

The Frio/Catahoula Formations of the Texas Coastal Plain provide an example that both illustrates the coexistence of hydrologic regimes and relates associations of diagenetic features with existing regimes or with the important mixing zones that occur between regimes. Hydrocarbon geochemistries indicate meteoric flushing to depths approaching 2000 m. The deeper geopressured section is coincident with a thermobaric regime in which clay dewatering recharges the hydrologically restricted portions of the basin fill.

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