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GEOREF RECORD

Upper Elk Point Subgroup paleogeography and evaporite distribution with implications for evaporite dissolution, karstification, and carbonate diagenesis in northeastern Alberta

Tyler E. Hauck and Matthias Grobe
Upper Elk Point Subgroup paleogeography and evaporite distribution with implications for evaporite dissolution, karstification, and carbonate diagenesis in northeastern Alberta
Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology (December 2020) 68 (4): 91-122

Abstract

Lithostratigraphic correlation and mapping of formations and units within the Upper Elk Point subgroup provide updated information on their extent and distribution within the province of Alberta. Together with detailed bed-scale evaporite mapping of three evaporite minerals -- halite, anhydrite, and gypsum -- within evaporitic successions for net-thickness maps, these data allow new representations of the paleogeography of these units across the province. Paleogeographic maps of the Keg River, Prairie Evaporite and Muskeg formations reveal new details on the location of the La Crete sub-basin in northern Alberta, and the distribution and nature of Keg River Formation buildups and the overlying evaporite strata within this depositional realm. Net-evaporite mapping gives a robust picture of the distribution of Upper Elk Point subgroup evaporites, and allows for a detailed characterization of heterogeneities, halite dissolution, and sulphate karstification. Mapping of gypsum reveals that rehydration of anhydrite to gypsum (gypsification) through meteoric inflow is most pronounced within the La Crete sub-basin in northeastern Alberta, particularly where thick anhydrite deposits are associated with interbuildup basinal areas east of the Prairie Evaporite halite dissolution scarp. This association provides an explanation for the location of where active gypsification, dissolution and associated karstification is occurring and where it can be expected to occur. The process of gypsification, and ultimately sulphate dissolution, is requisite for the formation of porous dedolomite zones within the carbonates of the Prairie Evaporite Formation. Dedolomitized beds are recognized as aquifer units that are known to have contributed to Devonian-sourced, high-salinity water inflows to mine pits in the mineable oil sands area. Evidence is provided for a top-down advancement of halite and sulphate dissolution in all evaporites in northeastern Alberta. Circular, chain-like karst lakes are likely surficial expressions of the meteoric conduits for top-down karstification of sulphates east of the Prairie Evaporite halite dissolution scarp, similar to that observed in the well-documented sulphate karst district of Wood Buffalo National Park.


ISSN: 0007-4802
Coden: BCPGAI
Serial Title: Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology
Serial Volume: 68
Serial Issue: 4
Title: Upper Elk Point Subgroup paleogeography and evaporite distribution with implications for evaporite dissolution, karstification, and carbonate diagenesis in northeastern Alberta
Affiliation: Alberta Geological Survey, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Pages: 91-122
Published: 202012
Text Language: English
Publisher: Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, Calgary, AB, Canada
References: 96
Accession Number: 2022-004044
Categories: Sedimentary petrology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sect., strat. col.
Country of Publication: Canada
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 202204
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