The Thermal Evolution of the Ouachita Orogen, Arkansas and Oklahoma from Quartz-Calcite Thermometry and Fluid Inclusion Thermobarometry



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To understand the fluid temperature and pressure during the Ouachita orogeny, we used isotopic analysis of syntectonic veins and adjacent host material, quartz-calcite oxygen isotope thermometry and fluid inclusion analysis. The veins were at or near isotopic equilibrium with their host rocks; neither the host nor veins has been isotopically reset. The average isotopic variation in (delta18)O between vein and host is 2.4 plus/minus 1.7% and 0.7 plus/minus 1.7% for quartz and calcite, respectively. The temperature of vein formation from quartz-calcite oxygen isotope thermometry is about 210-430 degrees C. Although this is a large range, the temperature does not vary systematically in the exposed Ordovician through Mississippian rocks. The lack of isotopic difference between host and vein suggests that the host oxygen determined that of the veins. This in turn suggests that the fluid in the rocks did not change regionally. The vitrinite reflectance/temperature of the host rocks increases with restored stratigraphic depth more than that calculated with the quartz-calcite thermometer in veins. Fluid inclusion analysis in vein quartz constrains homogenization temperatures to be from 106-285 degrees C. Isochores from fluid inclusion analyses were constrained using quartz-calcite thermometry and vitrinite reflectance temperatures to calculate vein formation pressures of 0.3?4.7 kbars. These pressures correspond to vein formation depths up to 19 km, assuming an unduplicated stratigraphic section. Using burial curves and a reasonable range of geothermal gradients, vein formation ages are between 300 to 315 Ma, i.e., Early to Middle Pennsylvanian.