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Keywords:

  • Badenian;
  • depositional environments;
  • facies;
  • geochemistry;
  • gypsum

In the middle Miocene Badenian gypsum basin of the Carpathian Foredeep, west Ukraine, three main zones of gypsum development occur in the peripheral parts of the basin. Zone I consists entirely of stromatolitic gypsum formed in a nearshore zone. Zone II is located more basinward and is characterized by stromatolitic gypsum in the lower part of the section, overlain by a sabre gypsum unit. Zone III occurs in still more basinward areas and is characterized by giant gypsum intergrowths (or secondary nodular gypsum pseudomorphs of these) in the lowermost part, overlain by stromatolitic gypsum, sabre gypsum and then by clastic gypsum units. Correlation between these facies and zones has been achieved using lithological marker beds and surfaces. Of particular importance for correlation is a characteristic marker bed (usually 20–40 cm thick) of cryptocrystalline massive gypsum occurring in zones II and III. The marker was not distinguished in zone I, possibly because this bed is older than the entire gypsum section of that zone. These new results strongly suggest that the deposition of giant gypsum intergrowth facies and stromatolitic gypsum facies was coeval. In some sections of zones I and II, limestone intercalations have been recorded within the upper part of the gypsum sections. Considerable scatter of the δ18O and δ13C values of these limestones indicates variable diagenetic overprints of marine carbonates, but a marine provenance of the limestones is confirmed by microfacies analysis. Some of the limestones are coeval with an intercalation of gypsarenitic, mostly laminated gypsum occurring in the sabre gypsum unit of zones II and III. Badenian gypsum formed in extremely shallow-water to subaerial environments on broad, very low relief areas of negligible brine depth, which could be affected by rapid transgressions. Stable isotope (δ34S, δ18O) studies of the gypsum demonstrate that the sulphate was of sea-water origin or was derived from dissolution of Miocene marine evaporites. Investigations of individual inclusions in the gypsum indicate decreased water salinity when compared with modern marine-derived, calcium sulphate-saturated water. Groundwater influences are indicated by high calcium sulphate contents of the brines in the evaporite basin. The chemical composition of Badenian waters was thus a mixture of relic sea water (depleted in NaCl), groundwater (enriched in calcium sulphate) and surface run-off.