- GeoRef, Copyright 2006, American Geological Institute.
Various empirical and theoretical arguments suggest that early formed cement in sandstone is a product of meteoric water whose chemistry is controlled by climate. The nature and distribution of early silicate cement in Gondwana, Fountain, and Cutler sandstone support this supposition. Sandstones from all three units have experienced a broadly similar diagenetic history characterized by two stages of authigenesis. Stage I was typified by neomorphic development of kaolinite, chlorite, smectite, quartz, and, additionally in the Cutler Formation, laumontite. Stage II was dominated by replacement reactions involving the production mostly of illite, iron oxide, carbonate minerals, and, mostly in the Gondwana sandstone, a second generation of quartz. Thermodynamic relations, hydrologic constraints, and radiometric dating of the late-stage illite indicate that early authigenesis took place within a few million years of deposition at burial depths measured in hundreds of meters. Consequently, the nature of the silicate cement was a function of the groundwater chemistry, as controlled by climate. During times of relative aridity, ionic concentration of the groundwater was high, and high proportions of smectite, chlorite, and, more rarely, laumontite formed. Such was the case in Petrofacies I, IV, V of the Gondwana Supergroup (for a definition of Gondwana petrofacies see part I of this study) in the Cutler Fm., and in the upper 150 m of the Fountain Fm. During times of high precipitation, pore water was dilute, which promoted authigenic formation of kaolinite and quartz. This is represented by sandstones in petrofacies II and VI of the Gondwana and by sandstones in the lower 200 m of the Fountain Fm. Illite is especially abundant as a pseudomorphic replacement of kaolinite in the older Gondwana sandstones. Illitization apparently began at burial depths of about 1,600 m at a temperature of about 75 degrees C. Illite is not common in the Cutler Formation and is present only in subordinate amounts in the Fountain Formation from the study area. The delta 18 O values of early clay cement in the Gondwana sandstones range systematically from base to top from 5.00 per thousand to 13.20 per thousand . The systematic variation in delta 18 O value of Gondwana clay reflects the gradual migratory drift of the Gondwana harm toward lower latitudes through time. Average delta 18 O values for Cutler cement (13.23 per thousand ) and Fountain cement (19.82 per thousand ) are greater than the analogous values for Gondwana cements. This is consistent with the lower-latitude setting of deposition for the Cutler and Fountain relative to the latitudinal location of the Gondwana basins. However, the values are anomalously lower than what have been observed in modern-day neoformed clays in weathering profiles from low latitudes.