Abstract

Paleokarst of the Winnipegosis mud mounds is mainly characterized by extensive solution features and cavity deposits. Solution features vary from millimetre-size vugs/channels to metre-scale caverns. Most solution voids are filled with anhydrite and/or carbonate deposits. “Swiss-cheese” type porosities appear as oval to irregular pore networks and most of them remain open. Erosional surfaces are observed in several cores. Fractures and breccia fragments are small-scale and commonly associated with solution features or calcretes. Cavity sediments are dominantly detrital dolomite, interpreted as a product of weathering of the host rocks. Speleothems occur in vugs and channels but are not abundant. Caverns and large vugs likely formed at or just below the water table in the phreatic zone or in a freshwater-saltwater mixing zone during subaerial exposure of the mounds. Porous “Swiss-cheese” fabrics resemble sponge-like pores that form in mixing zones of modern carbonate platforms and islands. Porosity in the Winnipegosis mounds was extensively modified by karstification and subsequent anhydrite cementation.

Paleokarst occurs only in the middle and upper parts of relatively high Winnipegosis mounds with respect to the basin floor. Multiple levels of caverns and vugs are probably related to various positions of freshwater lenses corresponding to recurrent subaerial exposure and water level changes in the Elk Point Basin. Occurrence of caverns and large vugs at 55 m below the top of the mounds indicates that the mixing zone or freshwater has extended downward to this depth.

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