Abstract

Postdepositional sediment mobilization is a common phenomenon that occurs over large areas of sedimentary basins, usually within mudstone-rich successions; however, defining the exact mechanism that initiates this process has proved elusive. Here we describe a number of large-scale clastic intrusions (injectites), 50 to >300 m in height, hosted within fine-grained biosiliceous upper Eocene to Pliocene strata in four sedimentary basins. Within these basins diagenetic conversion of opal A into opal CT (cristobalite and tridymite) causes a marked reduction in sediment porosity and the liberation of bound water, often at relatively shallow burial (<0.5 km). We propose that this occurs over geologically short time periods over large expanses of sedimentary basins, causing rapid pore fluid expulsion and overpressure buildup within interbedded sands. The liberated fluids primed these sands, rendering them susceptible to remobilization. This mechanism should have broad applicability.

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