Isotopic and geochemical characterization of fossil brines of the Cambrian Mt. Simon Sandstone and Ironton-Galesville Formation from the Illinois Basin, USA

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Abstract

Geochemical and isotopic characteristics of deep-seated saline groundwater provide valuable insight into the origin and evolving composition, water-rock interaction, and mixing potential of fossil brines. Such information may yield insight into intra- and interbasinal brine movement and relationships between brine evolution and regional groundwater flow systems. This investigation reports on the δ18O and δD composition and activity values, 87Sr/86Sr ratios and Sr concentrations, and major ion concentrations of the Cambrian-hosted brines of the Mt. Simon Sandstone and Ironton-Galesville Formation and discusses the evolution of these brines as they relate to other intracontinental brines. Brines in the Illinois Basin are dominated by Na-Ca-Cl-type chemistry. The Mt. Simon and overlying Ironton-Galesville brines exhibit total dissolved solids concentrations of ~195,000mg/L and ~66,270mg/L, respectively. The δD of brine composition of the Mt. Simon ranges from -34‰ to -22‰ (V-SMOW), and the Ironton-Galesville is ~-53.2‰ (V-SMOW). The δ18O composition of the Mt. Simon brine ranges from -5.0‰ to -2.8‰ (V-SMOW), and the Ironton-Galesville brine is ~-6.9‰ (V-SMOW). The 87Sr/86Sr values in the Mt. Simon brine range from 0.7110 to 0.7116. The less radiogenic Ironton-Galesville brine has an average 87Sr/86Sr value of 0.7107. Evaluation of δ18O and δD composition and activities and 87Sr/86Sr ratios suggests that the Mt. Simon brine is likely connate seawater and recirculating deep-seated brines that have been diluted with meteoric water and influenced by the dissolution of evaporites with a minimal halite contribution based on Cl/Br ratios. The Ironton-Galesville brine is also likely originally connate seawater that mixed with other brines and meteoric waters, including possibly Pleistocene glacial recharge. The Ca-excess vs. Na-deficiency comparison with the Basinal Fluid Line suggests the Mt. Simon and Ironton-Galesville brines have been influenced by the effects of albitization and plot very close to the Basinal Fluid Line. These Cambrian-hosted brines appear to have a different albitization history than other regional basin brines and a strong component of seawater. The Ironton-Galesville brine appears more geochemically associated with other Illinois Basin brines than the Mt. Simon brine which appears more geochemically conservative. Comparisons with other extrabasinal North American brines suggest that the Michigan basin brines are geochemically most similar to the Mt. Simon brines with the exception of the influence from carbonates in the Michigan Basin. Analyses of 87Sr/86Sr values in the Mt. Simon brine suggest that brine Sr has isotopically equilibrated with clay minerals in the Lower Mt. Simon and underlying bedrock formations and not with whole rock suggesting the influence of recirculating brines from the crystalline basement. Overall, the geochemistry of these Cambrian-hosted brines suggests an evolution from original seawater-like compositions. This investigation shows that intracratonic basins do not behave as closed systems but can be strongly affected by water-rock interaction and regional groundwater flow systems that circulate deep crystalline basement brines and brines from nearby basins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-360
Number of pages19
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume165
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 5 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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