Conditions of meteoric calcite formation along a Variscan fault and their possible relation to climatic evolution during the Jurassic–Cretaceous



Two calcite cements, filling karst cavities and replacing Lower Carboniferous limestones at the Variscan Front Thrust, were precipitated after mid-Jurassic Cimmerian uplift and subsequent erosion but before late Cretaceous strike-slip movement. The first calcite (stage A) is nonferroan and crystals are coated by hematite and/or goethite. These minerals also occur as inclusions along growth zones. The calcite lattice contains < 0·07 mol.% Fe, but Mn concentrations can be as high as 0·72 mol.% in bright yellow luminescent zones. Primary, originally one-phase, all-liquid, aqueous inclusions have a final melting temperature between −0·2° and +0·2 °C, indicating a meteoric origin of the ambient water. The δ13C and δ18O values of the calcites are between −7·3‰ and −6·3‰, −7·8‰ and −5·5‰ on the Vienna PeeDee Belemnite (VPDB) scale, respectively. The second calcite (stage B) consists of ferroan (0·13–0·84 mol.% Fe) blocky crystals with Mn concentrations between 0·34 and 0·87 mol.%. Primary, single-phase aqueous fluid inclusions indicate precipitation from a meteoric fluid below 50 °C . The δ13C values of stage B calcites vary between −7·3‰ and −2·1‰ VPDB and the δ18O values between −7·9‰ and −7·2‰ VPDB. A precipitation temperature below 50 °C for the stage A calcites and the presence of iron oxide/hydroxide inclusions in the crystals indicate near-surface precipitation conditions. Within this setting, the geochemistry of the nonferroan stage A calcites reflects precipitation under oxic to suboxic conditions. The ferroan stage B calcites precipitated in a reducing environment. The evolution from the stage A to stage B calcites and the associated geochemical changes are interpreted to be related to the change from semiarid to humid conditions in western Europe during late Jurassic–Cretaceous times. A change in humidity can explain the evolution of groundwater from oxic/suboxic to reducing conditions during calcite precipitation. The typically higher δ13C values of the stage B compared to the stage A calcites can be explained by a smaller contribution of carbon derived from soil-zone processes than from carbonate dissolution in the groundwater under humid conditions. The small shift to lower δ18O between stage A and B calcites may be caused by a higher precipitation temperature or a decrease in the δ18O value of the meteoric water. This decrease could have been caused by a change in the source of the air masses or by an increase in the amount of rainfall during the early mid-Cretaceous. Although the latter interpretation is preferred, it cannot be proven.