Abstract

Subaqueous deposits of aragonite, gypsum, and halite are accumulating in shallow solar salt ponds constructed in the Pekelmeer, a sea-level sauna on Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. Several halite facies are deposited in the crystallizer ponds in response to differences in water depth and wave energy. Cumulate halite, which originates as floating rafts, is present only along the protected, upwind margins of ponds where low-energy conditions foster their formation and preservation. Cornet crystals with peculiar mushroom- and mortarboard-shaped caps precipitate in centimetre-deep brine sheets within a couple of metres of the upwind or low-energy margins. Downwind from these margins, cornet and chevron halite precipitate on the pond floors in water depths ranging from a few centimetres to ∼60 cm. Halite pisoids with radial-concentric structure are precipitated in the swash zone along downwind high-energy shorelines where they form pebbly beaches. This study suggests that primary halite facies are energy and/or depth dependent and that some primary features, if preserved in ancient halite deposits, can be used to infer physical energy conditions, subenvironments such as low- to high-energy shorelines, and extremely shallow water depths in ancient evaporite basins.

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