Activation of stylolites as conduits for overpressured fluid flow in dolomitized platform carbonates

J. D. Martín-Martín, E. Gomez Rivas, D. Gómez-Gras, A. Travé, R. Ameneiro, D. Koehn, P.D. Bons

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41 Citations (Scopus)
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This study investigates the late Aptian-early Albian platform carbonates of the Benicàssim area (Maestrat Basin, Spain) in order to assess the relationship between bed-parallel stylolites and the flow of diagenetic fluids during dolomitization and late hydrothermal alteration. Dolomite and burial dolomite and calcite cements were studied by a combination of field geology and standard petrographic and isotope analysis. The results indicate that dolostones are closely associated with seismic-scale synsedimentary faults. Dolostones preferentially replace grain-dominated facies and typically show wavy dolomitizing fronts that mostly correspond to bed-parallel stylolites. The dolostones are corroded and contain bed-parallel pores that are filled with hydrothermal saddle dolomite and late blocky calcite cements. This calcite cement frequently engulfs clasts of the host dolomite suggesting that hydraulic brecciation likely associated with overpressured fluid occurred. Results indicate that stylolites play a key role in the distribution of dolostones and subsequent hydrothermal mineralization. During the replacement stage, stylolites acted as baffles for the dolomitzing fluids controlling lateral fluid flow and resulting in the stratabound dolostone distribution. During the post-dolomitization stage, stylolites became preferred pathways for overpressured hydrothermal corrosive and mineralizing fluids that likely came from the underlying basement, and increased bed-parallel stylolitic porosity and probably permeability as well
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-176
Number of pages20
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Early online date3 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

This research was developed with funding provided by the Spanish Government I+D+I Research Projects CGL2015-69805-P and CGL2015-66335-C2-1-R, and the Generalitat de Catalunya (2014SGR251). The research also benefited from a grant of the Geological Society of London (Elspeth Matthews Fund 2015) to EGR. The authors would like to thank M. Aston and O. P. Wennberg for the editorial work, and F. Laponi and an anonymous reviewer for their critical and constructive comments.


  • dolomitization
  • hydrothermal cementation
  • stylolites
  • fault
  • overpressured fluid


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