Contractional Fold Amplification Through Bed-Parallel Gypsum Vein (“Beef”) Formation
Field observations and structural analysis of a 50-m-wavelength gentle anticline document bed-parallel fibrous gypsum veins (“beef”) and calcite veins associated with contractional folding in the Boquillas Formation, east of Langtry, west Texas. Gypsum beef veins with bed-perpendicular fibers accommodated vertical extension of 13% in the anticline, diminishing to 0% in adjacent synclines. Bed-parallel calcite veins accommodated 0–4% vertical extension across the structure, with no clear correspondence of vein distribution to structural position. Homogenization temperatures from two-phase fluid inclusions in calcite veins indicate trapping depths of 2.0–2.7 km. Source rock analysis from unoxidized organic-rich mudrock at the site shows that the rocks never reached hydrocarbon maturation conditions, therefore vein formation cannot be explained by in situ hydrocarbon expulsion. Bed-parallel veins with vertical or bed-perpendicular fibers document a thrust faulting stress regime during contractional folding near the frontal limit of Laramide deformation. Gypsum vein formation may be related to meteoric water interacting with pyrite or H2S to form sulfuric acid, dissolution of carbonate, and deposition of gypsum as an auxiliary mineral. Switching between calcite and gypsum mineralization suggests opening and closing of fault and fracture controlled fluid pathways during deformation.
Ferrill, D. A., Smart, K. J., Evans, M. A., Cawood, A. J., Morris, A. P., Lehrmann, D. J., & McGinnis, R. N. (2022). Contractional fold amplification through bed-parallel gypsum vein ("beef") formation. Journal of Structural Geology, 156, Article 104532. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2022.104532
Journal of Structural Geology