Na-CI, halite Ca-CI, and gypsum Ca-Cl brines with salinities from 45 to >300 g/L are identified and mapped in four hydrostratigraphic units in the Permian Basin area beneath western Texas and Oklahoma and eastern New Mexico, providing spatial and lithologic constraints on the interpretation of the origin and movement of brine. Na-Cl brine is derived from meteoric water as young as 5-10 Ma that dissolved anhydrite and halite, whereas Ca-CI brine is interpreted to be ancient, modified-connate Permian brine that now is mixing with, and being displaced by, the Na-Cl brine. Displacement fronts appear as broad mixing zones with no significant salinity gradients.
Evolution of Ca-CI brine composition from ideal evaporated sea water is attributed to dolomitization and syndepositional recycling of halite and bittern salts by intermittent influx of fresh water and sea water. Halite Ca-Cl brine in the evaporite section in the northern part of the basin differs from gypsum Ca-Cl brine in the south-central part in salinity and Na/Cl ratio and reflects segregation between halite- and gypsum-precipitating lagoons during the Permian. Ca-Cl brine moved downward through the evaporite section into the underlying Lower Permian and Pennsylvanian marine section that is now the deep-basin brine aquifer, mixing there with pre-existing sea water. Buoyancy-driven convection of brine dominated local flow for most of basin history, with regional advection governed by topographically related forces dominant only for the cast 5 to 10 Ma.