Abstract

Field, petrographic and geochemical analysis of fibrous calcite veins in the Lower Jurassic Shales-with-Beef Member in the Wessex Basin was conducted to investigate the formation mechanism of the veins. Bedding-parallel fibrous calcite veins, including beef veins and tabular cone-in-cone structures, are widespread in the black shales. The calcite veins consist of subvertical fibrous crystals and a dark median zone. The median zone contains scattered clays, pyrite microcrystals, skeletal fragments and amorphous organic matter. The veins exhibit moderate carbon isotope values, ranging from −1.515 to 2.732‰. The oxygen isotope composition ranges from −8.872 to −4.521‰, which is possibly too negative to reflect the primary porewater oxygen isotope signatures and indicates a porewater modification. It is interpreted that the veins mainly derive carbonates from seawater inorganic carbon and bioclasts. The veins formed as closed-system hydraulic fractures in overpressured cells during sediment degassing in the methanogenic zone. The shale beds with a high total organic carbon content could have generated abundant CO2, which may have resulted in either the cementing of the pores in the matrix or overpressure buildup. The skeletal fragments provide a control on the spatial distribution of veins as nuclei for calcite precipitation from supersaturated pore fluids.

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