Consideration of the geosphere for isolation of nuclear waste has generated substantial interest in the origin, age, and movement of fluids and gases in low-permeability rock formations. Here, we present profiles of isotopes, solutes, and helium in porewaters recovered from 860 m of Cambrian to Devonian strata on the eastern flank of the Michigan Basin. Of particular interest is a 240-m-thick, halite-mineralized, Ordovician shale and carbonate aquiclude, which hosts Br-enriched, post-dolomitic brine (5.8 molal Cl) originating as evaporated Silurian seawater. Authigenic helium that has been accumulating in the aquiclude for more than 260 m.y. is found to be isolated from underlying allochthonous, 3He-enriched helium that originated from the rifted base of the Michigan Basin and the Canadian Shield. The Paleozoic age and immobility of the pore fluids in this Ordovician aquiclude considerably strengthen the safety case for deep geological repositories, but also provide new insights into the origin of deep crustal brines and opportunities for research on other components of a preserved Paleozoic porewater system.

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