Deep core (>4.9 km) from Ediacaran Deng IV Member algal dolomites in the Gaoshiti-Moxi block in the Sichuan Basin, southwest China, reveals multiple generations of dolomite-lined and dolomite-filled opening-mode fractures. Three progressive stages of fracture formation are marked by crosscutting relations visible in the core, by acoustic emission experiments revealing evidence of past stress directions, and by fluid inclusions, U-Pb ages, C-O-Sr-Nd isotope patterns, and rare earth element data for dolomite cements in fractures, which document ages and differing thermal conditions and fluid compositions during fracture. In calcite-filled fractures, U-Pb ages and carbon and oxygen isotope signatures vary greatly, indicating that fractures developed with intensified tectonic activity marked by regional structures and with enhanced diagenetic alteration. In stage I, WNW-striking opening-mode fractures formed that contain dolomite deposits precipitated from basinal fluids between ca. 549 Ma and ca. 532 Ma. At this time, the Sichuan Basin experienced Xingkai taphrogenesis (rifting) from the late Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian. The central Sichuan paleo-uplift was undergoing ENE extension, and preexisting ESE- and nearly E-W−striking faults were oblique to the ENE principal stress orientation. This led to a local stress field favoring dextral shear near fault zones accommodated by the fractures. In stage II, ENE-striking fractures that are younger based on crosscutting relations contain dolomite deposits from basinal fluids with ages from ca. 423 Ma to ca. 411 Ma. Contemporaneous with Xuefeng thrusting, the central Sichuan paleo-uplift was in a NNE-striking transpressional stress field, which likely further generated ENE-striking fractures. In stage III, nearly N-S−striking fractures formed in the Gaoshiti-Moxi block. High-temperature fluids related to the Permian Emeishan large igneous province invaded these fractures from ca. 260 Ma to ca. 256 Ma. At this time, the Sichuan Basin was uplifted under the influence of the Emei taphrogenesis in the late Permian, and the central Sichuan paleo-uplift was subjected to E-W−striking extension. In fractures in these carbonate rocks, micro-computed tomography imaging reveals that macropores (>10 μm, 12.1%−21.8%) and small pores (2−10 μm, 76.6%−86.1%) dominate the dolomite mineral deposits, and that there are few (1.6%−1.8%) micropores or nanopores (<2 μm). Medium-sized throats (1−3 μm) are the main connecting channels. We infer that fractures served as conduits for fluid migration, leading to the dissolution of matrix pores adjacent to the fractures. This secondary porosity not only enhances reservoir storage capacity but also augments reservoir connectivity. Our study shows that in situ U-Pb dating and full-diameter rock acoustic emission data can effectively constrain the timing of fractures. By integrating this information with regional tectonic sequences and fracture diagenetic sequences from combined relative timing, geochemistry, and rock mechanics evidence, we clarify the factors controlling fracture formation.

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