Reconstructing the burial diagenetic history of thefractured Lower Carboniferous carbonates of theNorth Wales Platform

  • Alanna Juerges

Student thesis: Phd


Reconstructing the burial diagenetic history of the fractured Lower Carboniferous carbonate of the North Wales Platform Alanna Juerges, Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University of Manchester, 2012The North Wales Platform, UK represents a lower Carboniferous carbonate platform that developed during back-arc extension on the northern margin of the Wales-Brabant Massif. This succession was faulted and folded during the Late Carboniferous Variscan Orogeny and again during the Late Jurassic extension-Tertiary Alpine Orogeny, resulting in multiple reactivations of Caledonian structural trends (N-S, NE-SW and NW-SE) and basin inversion. The platform underwent deformation, several episodes of fluid-flow, and multiple phases of diagenetic overprinting. The products of fluid circulation in this area consist of the Mississippi Valley-type (MVT) mineralisation and dolomitisation, mostly affecting the carbonates of the lower Carboniferous (Dinantian) succession.This study presents a combined regional sedimentological, diagenetic and structural framework through multiscale, interdisciplinary techniques. Techniques include field observation, transmitted light and cathodoluminescence analysis, in-situ and bulk major and trace element analysis including rare earth elements, stable isotope (oxygen/carbon), and strontium isotope analysis. The North Wales Dinantian (Asbian-Brigantian) succession developed from a ramp to rimmed platform geometry and records a range of depositional and non depositional environments including platform margin, subtidal, peritidal and emergent. Early diagenesis comprises a series of marine and meteoric calcite cements. These are volumetrically the most important cements and occlude nearly all primary interparticle porosity on the North Wales Platform. Consequently, burial calcite cements and MVT mineralisation was precipitated within fractures and dissolution-enhanced secondary porosity. Dolomitisation on the North Wales Platform occur as pods along the current day coastline/palaeo platform margin and eight dolomite phases have been identified. These are present as matrix replacive and cement phases that are spatially and temporally related to deep seated structural lineaments. It is proposed that early diagenesis resulted from the establishment of meteoric aquifers, influenced by tectono-eustatic fluctuations. Subsequently, small volumes of fluid were released following compaction and during the waning stages of lower Carboniferous extension. The onset of the Variscan compression during the mid - Late Carboniferous led to the main stage of basin de-watering on to the platform via faults/fracture systems and the development of pockets of overpressuring. Circulating marine pore-waters provided the necessary magnesium required for dolomitisation within select fault/fracture systems. A second phase of tectonic deformation with associated copper mineralisation occurred during the Triassic-Jurassic extension and Alpine uplift. Fluids and metals for the copper mineralisation were derived from the adjacent siliciclastic Permo-Triassic and Jurassic East Irish Sea Basin succession. Compared to the adjacent and time equivalent Derbyshire and Askrigg Platforms, the North Wales Platform displays a more complex paragenesis as a result of differing burial histories and fluid sources. This study highlights the importance of understanding palaeo-fluid flow and diagenesis in platform carbonates and is directly relevant to hydrocarbon production, mining and resource containment in reservoirs.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCatherine Hollis (Supervisor) & David Hodgetts (Supervisor)


  • Dolomite
  • Carboniferous
  • North Wales
  • Fractured carbonates
  • Dinantian
  • Diagenesis

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