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Genesis of poikilotopic zeolite in aeolianites: An example from the Parnaíba Basin, NE Brazil

Rabelo, Cleber Eduardo Neri, Cardoso, Alexandre Ribeiro, Nogueira, Afonso César Rodrigues, Soares, Joelson Lima, Góes, Ana Maria
Sedimentary geology 2019 v.385 pp. 61-78
Cretaceous period, Jurassic period, Triassic period, X-ray diffraction, aluminum, basalt, basins, bicarbonates, calcite, calcium, cations, cement, clay, coatings, convection, corrosion, crystals, diagenesis, energy-dispersive X-ray analysis, eolian sands, floods, iron, leaching, paleoecology, sand, sandstone, scanning electron microscopy, silicon, sodium, sulfates, water table, weathering, zeolites, Atlantic Ocean, Brazil
Zeolite cement is one of the main components of the Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous fluvial-aeolian succession in the Parnaiba Basin, northeastern Brazil. Core and outcrop-based stratigraphic analyses permitted the paleo-environmental and diagenetic interpretation of aeolian sandstone and showed the influence of the volcanic substrate in the origin of the zeolite cement. The substrate is represented by an extensive volcanic plain developed in the last stages of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) in West Gondwana. The siliciclastic deposits consist of dune field, sand sheet and wadi deposit facies associations. The zeolite cement of the aeolian succession forms poikilotopic crystals with anomalous up to 50% modal content. X-ray diffraction and SEM/EDS/CL analyses showed laumontite and Ca-stilbite exhibiting, respectively, massive and radial textures. During eodiagenesis, the main processes included clay infiltration linked to water table fluctuations and flash flood events, producing clay coatings and displacive stilbite cementation. Massive laumontite cementation and smectite-chlorite conversion occurred in the mesodiagenesis, while in the final stages, the zeolite was partially replaced by calcite cement. Telodiagenesis is recorded by iron exsudation and the corrosion of clay films. Several processes can be inferred to explain the origin of the zeolite cement in the Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous sandstone of the Parnaiba Basin. After the first magmatic pulse (Triassic magmatism), the zeolite-bearing basalts were submitted to chemical weathering, causing cation leaching. Afterwards, the deposition of aeolian sands related to a wet desert system occurred above this weathered substrate. Fractured basaltic substrate favored the release of ions to the surface, with fluids enriched in sodium and calcium that percolated the permeable aeolian sandstone beds during the diagenesis. Furthermore, zeolite cement is geographically associated with the volcanic substrate in the western Parnaíba Basin. However, it is absent in the eastern part, where the aeolianites overlie sedimentary rocks. We suggest that the system was thermally reactivated by the last thermal CAMP phase, with basalt emplacement in the eastern Parnaiba Basin linked to the opening of the Equatorial Atlantic Ocean (Cretaceous magmatism). The progressive heating towards the western part of the basin triggered fluids convection, and the enrichment in ions such as Ca2+, Si4+, Na+, Al3+, HCO−3 and SO42−, promoting optimal conditions for zeolite crystal growth (100 °C–300 °C). Sandstone textural aspects, as well as extensional faults and fractures allowed fluids migration resulting in the massive poikilotopic zeolite cementation, characterizing one of the most singular features of the diagenetic history of the West Gondwana record.