Migration of Mn-rich fluids through normal faults and fine-grained terrigenous sediments during early development of the Neogene Vallès-Penedès half-graben (NE Spain)


Anna Travé, Departament de Geoquímica, Petrologia i Prospecció Geològica, Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Martí i Franqués, s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.
Email: atrave@ub.edu. Tel: +34 93 4021416. Fax: +34 93 4021340.


The Miocene siliciclastic sediments infilling the Vallès-Penedès half-graben are affected by two sets of structures developed during the extensional tectonics that created the basin. The first set, represented by extension fractures infilled with mud and sands, is attributed to seismically induced liquefaction. The second set, represented by normal faults, corresponds to a high-permeability horsetail extensional fracture mesh developed near the surface in the hanging walls of normal faults. The incremental character of the vein-fills indicates episodic changes in the tectonic stress state and fault zone permeability. Two episodes of fluid migration are recorded. The first episode occurred prior to consolidation and lithification when shallow burial conditions allowed oxidizing meteoric waters to flow horizontally through the more porous and permeable sandy layers. Development of clastic dikes allowed local upward flow and dewatering of the sandy beds. Liquefaction and expulsion of fluids were probably driven by seismic shaking. During the first episode of fluid migration there was no cementation of the sandstone or within the fractures, probably because little fluid was mobilized by the predominantly compaction-driven flow regime. The second episode of fluid migration occurred synchronously with normal fault development, during which time the faults acted as fluid conduits. Fluids enriched in manganese, probably leached from local manganese oxyhydroxides soon after sedimentation, moved laterally and produced cementation in the sandstone layers, eventually arriving at the more porous and permeable fault pathways that connected compartments of different porosities and permeabilities. Carbonate probably precipitated in fractures saturated with meteoric water near the ground surface at a transitional redox potential. Once the faults became occluded by calcite cement, shortly after fault development, they became barriers to both vertical and horizontal fluid flow.