The carbonate compaction law: a new tool



    1. Department of Geological Sciences, Campus Box 250, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
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      Institut für Geologie und Paläontologie, 74 Tübingen, Sigwartstr. 10, Federal Republic Germany


Carbonate content, compaction, and porosity are evaluated from a large number of samples using micritic marl-limestone alternations from Germany, France, and Italy. Compaction is measured directly by utilizing both deformed, originally cylindrical bioturbation tubes and steinkerns of ammonites. Additionally, a method is developed to indirectly evaluate the total compaction of the rock matrix by using early, selectively cemented burrows and fossils. Plots representing measurements of compaction versus carbonate content display distinctly non-linear relationships which show increasing compaction with decreasing carbonate content. These relationships are found to clearly correspond with the carbonate compaction law. The compaction law is introduced as a theoretical derivation for sediments and rocks which calculates the carbonate and non-carbonate content, compaction, and porosity. It is based on the assumption that the non-carbonate fraction standardized to the primary sediment-volume remains constant during carbonate diagenesis. The compaction law is used to calculate the most commonly found sediment/rock transformations (e.g. mechanical compaction, cementation, and chemical compaction) and to simulate the diagenetic processes of given examples.

Decompaction formulas are developed to evaluate the porosity and carbonate content of the primary sediment. An example of calculating decompaction and determining the original composition of the sediment is given utilizing carbonates spanning the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary at Gubbio (Italy).