Vertical fractures in Oxfordian limestones of the eastern part of the Paris Basin are interpreted as resulting from synsedimentary extensional deformations which occurred during the Mesozoic. These NNE-SSW striking fractures are 10 to 20 meters in height, and filled with microgranular material.

The fractures mainly affect crinoidal and oolitic grainstones. Their micritic to microsparitic, lithoclast-bearing infills may have resulted from the solidification of an ancient mud injected from non-lithified, overlying layers of marine sediments. They should therefore be referred to as sedimentary dykes. Graded layering suggests deposition under turbulent flow conditions, whereas later plastic deformation and breccia formation indicate a syndiagenetic reworking. Such observations are consistent with a predominance of the sedimentary dykes in grainstones, which are more rapidly lithified and therefore subject to early fracturing. On the contrary, these dykes are rare in mudstones which may constitute the source of the material for the infills in the grainstones.

Both the analysis of the wall geometry and the reconstruction of the diagenetic history of the infills make possible to distinguish two types of sedimentary dykes. The first type corresponds to a fracturation characterized by irregular walls around the rock-constituting grains (i.e. crinoidal debris or ooids), whereas the walls in the second type are cross-cutting the grains and present a fringe of sparite predating the microsparite infill.

The following scenario is proposed for the first type of sedimentary dykes: i) syntaxial cementation of crinoidal debris and early cementation of ooids; ii) fracturing along grain boundaries under low burial strain; iii) filling of fractures and open porosity by the mud. The second type of sedimentary dykes was formed under deeper burial conditions, which is indicated by both pre-existing bedding-parallel stylolites and the precipitation of sparite on the walls before the sedimentary infill. This early fracturation and the availability of a sedimentary filling, non-lithified material point to a late Jurassic age for these sedimentary dykes.

The δ18OSMOW isotopic signatures measured for the infilling sparite and microsparite materials indicate that these were precipitated from meteoric waters, either early during the formation of the sedimentary dykes or during a later recrystallization event.

The sedimentary dykes have recorded an E-W extension during the Oxfordian-Kimmeridgian period, which is in good agreement with the late Jurassic tectonic history of the western European platform. This early Oxfordian-Kimmeridgian fracturing and its associated fluid paleocirculations is of major interest in the context of the tectonic history of the Paris Basin, since most of these N-S to NNE-SSW tension gashes have been previously attributed to the Eocene Pyrenean shortening and Oligocene rifting stages.

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