Glauberite–halite association of the Zaragoza Gypsum Formation (Lower Miocene, Ebro Basin, NE Spain)



Glauberite is the most common mineral in the ancient sodium sulphate deposits in the Mediterranean region, although its origin, primary or diagenetic, continues to be a matter of debate. A number of glauberite deposits of Oligocene–Miocene age in Spain display facies characteristics of sedimentologic significance, in particular those in which a glauberite–halite association is predominant. In this context, a log study of four boreholes in the Zaragoza Gypsum Formation (Lower Miocene, Ebro Basin, NE Spain) was carried out. Two glauberite–halite lithofacies associations, A and B, are distinguished: association (A) is composed of bedded cloudy halite and minor amounts of massive and clastic glauberite; association (B) is made up of laminated to thin-bedded, clear macrocrystalline, massive, clastic and contorted lithofacies of glauberite, and small amounts of bedded cloudy halite. Transparent glauberite cemented by clear halite as well as normal-graded and reverse-graded glauberite textures are common. This type of transparent glauberite is interpreted as a primary, subaqueous precipitate. Gypsum, thenardite or mirabilite are absent in the two associations. The depositional environment is interpreted as a shallow perennial saline lake system, in which chloride brines (association A) and sulphate–(chloride) brines (association B) are developed. The geochemical study of halite crystals (bromine contents and fluid inclusion compositions) demonstrates that conditions for co-precipitation of halite and glauberite, or for precipitation of Na-sulphates (mirabilite, thenardite) were never fulfilled in the saline lake system.