Abstract

A detailed record of episodic basin-dewatering events is preserved in the anhydrite cap rocks of two Gulf Coast salt domes. Metalrich brines were intermittently expelled from geopressured zones deep in the stratigraphic section and were channeled upward along escape structures bounding the salt diapirs. Overhanging anhydrite cap rock helped to focus some escaping fluid into the zone of dissolution between the top of salt and overlying residual anhydrite cap rock. Iron, lead, and zinc sulfide solubilities were exceeded in this zone, possibly in response to dissolution and reduction of cap-rock sulfates. Because the metalliferous brines entered the dissolution zone intermittently, they were recorded as relatively thin horizontal bands of sulfide sandwiched between thicker accumulations of anhydrite. Continued dissolution of salt and underplating of residual anhydrite caused the sulfide bands to be displaced upward relative to the base of the cap, leading to an inverted stratigraphic record of basin-dewatering events. Paleomagnetic data from the Winnfield salt dome suggest that sulfide-producing basin-dewatering events and anhydrite cap-rock accumulation occurred between 157 and 145 Ma.

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