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Keywords:

  • Deep Alberta basin;
  • dolomite;
  • faulting;
  • fluid inclusion fluorescence;
  • radiogenic isotopes

The partly dolomitized Swan Hills Formation (Middle-Upper Devonian) in the Simonette oil field of west-central Alberta underwent a complex diagenetic history, which occurred in environments ranging from near surface to deep (>2500 m) burial. Five petrographically and geochemically distinct dolomites that include both cementing and replacive varieties post-date stylolites in limestones (depths >500 m). These include early planar varieties and later saddle dolomites. Fluid inclusion data from saddle dolomite cements (Th=137–190 °C) suggest that some precipitated at burial temperatures higher than the temperatures indicated by reflectance data (Tpeak=160 °C). Thus, at least some dolomitizing fluids were ‘hydrothermal’. Fluorescence microscopy identified three populations of primary hydrocarbon-bearing fluid inclusions and confirms that saddle dolomitization overlapped with Upper Cretaceous oil migration. The source of early dolomitizing fluids probably was Devonian or Mississippian seawater that was mixed with a more 87Sr-rich fluid. Fabric-destructive and fabric-preserving dolostones are over 35 m thick in the Swan Hills buildup and basal platform adjacent to faults, thinning to less than 10 cm thick in the buildup between 5 and 8 km away from the faults. This ‘plume-like’ geometry suggests that early and late dolomitization events were fault controlled. Late diagenetic fluids were, in part, derived from the crystalline basement or Palaeozoic siliciclastic aquifers, based on 87Sr/86Sr values up to 0·7370 from saddle dolomite, calcite and sphalerite cements, and 206Pb/204Pb of 22·86 from galena samples. Flow of dolomitizing and mineralizing fluids occurred during burial greater than 500 m, both vertically along reactivated faults and laterally in the buildup along units that retained primary and/or secondary porosity.