Natural fracture cementation in the Marcellus Formation
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In order to test the hypothesis that fractures in outcrops are equivalent to subsurface fracture systems I compare fracture cement morphology, texture, mineralogy and geochemistry from a suite of outcrop samples from Union Springs, NY, with fractures in four cores from a currently producing reservoir in southwest Pennsylvania. Transmitted light-microscope petrography and cold cathodoluminescence of calcite of outcrop and core samples reveals a variety of cement morphologies including crack-seal and blocky fracture cement textures that are interpreted as a record multiple repeated stages of fracture opening and sealing, as well as fibrous calcite fill and other mineral phases. The stable isotopic composition of calcite fracture cements from different fracture types in cores and outcrop range from -21.5 to +4.4‰ δ13C PDB and -8.0 to -12.0 ‰ δ18O PDB and indicate calcite precipitation temperatures between 46 and 89°C. Fluid inclusion microthermometry from secondary fluid inclusions indicates trapping temperatures between 110 and 120°C. Microprobe analysis of fracture calcite cement indicates a range in Fe, Mn, and Mg composition, with subsurface and outcrop cement of similar composition. Assuming burial history predicts thermal history, isotopic compositions together with fluid inclusions suggest calcite precipitated in vertical fractures during prograde burial, during the Acadian to early Alleghanian orogenies. These findings indicate that fractures in outcrops of the Marcellus Formation can be used as a proxy for those in the subsurface.