Giant calcite-cemented concretions, Dakota Formation, central Kansas, USA

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Abstract

Giant spheroidal concretions (cannonball concretions; some nearly 6 m in diameter) in fluvial channel-fill sandstones at two localities of the Dakota Sandstone formed by import of cement constituents at a burial depth of <1 km. During cannonball concretion growth a self-organizational process restricted concretions to a relatively few but widely spaced, and locally, evenly spaced, sites. Other forms of calcite cements at these localities are cement patches in the form of intergrown grape-size concretions (grapestone), and, locally, pervasive cement. An early episode of invasion by thermogenically generated H2S, which reacted with iron oxides on detrital grains, generated scattered pyrite crystals and decimetre-scale spheroidal pyrite concretions. Intergranular volumes (IGV) in the concretions range from 36% to 27%. The absence of a trend in IGV and of carbon and oxygen-isotope ratios from cannonball centres to margins indicates that these concretions did not cement progressively outwards from the centre. Rather, the modern spheres represent the spatial extent of nucleation sites that were not otherwise organized within that volume. Carbon and oxygen-isotope values for concretion calcites plot along a swath between depleted values of δ18C of −36‰ and δ18O of −13‰ and enriched values of −4‰ and −6‰, respectively. Four groups of calcites are evident on the basis of trace-element content and suggest that the calcite precipitated across a range of oxidation conditions that do not correlate strongly with the isotopic compositions. Although fluvial overbank sandstones have some pedogenic calcite, the channel sandstones have at most a trace of pedogenic calcite and carbonate rock fragments, so that the bulk of cement components were imported to the sandstones. Carbon and calcium sources for calcite cement include marine limestone, carbonate shells, and anhydrite in addition to HCOinline image derived from oxidized methane, most likely derived from beds underlying or laterally in communication with Dakota sandstones. HCOinline image in ascending formation waters, released during compaction, mixed with meteoric water whose temperature and composition varied with time, to generate the 7‰ range in δ18Ocalcite values measured.

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