There are numerous examples of fault-controlled, so-called hydrothermal dolomite (HTD), many of which host economic mineral deposits or hydrocarbons, but there remains a lack of consensus as to how they form. In particular, multiple phases of diagenetic overprinting can obscure geochemical fingerprints. Study of a Cenozoic succession with a relatively simple burial history here provides new insights into the development of differentially dolomitized beds. The Hammam Faraun fault (HFF) block within the Suez Rift, Egypt, hosts both massive and stratabound dolostone bodies. Non-fabric-selective massive dolostone is limited to the damage zone of the fault, while fabric-selective stratabound dolostone bodies penetrate nearly 2 km into the footwall. Oligo-Miocene seawater is interpreted to have been drawn down discrete faults into a deep aquifer and convected upwards along the HFF. Escape of fluids from the incipient HFF into the lower Thebes Formation led to differential, stratabound dolomitization. Once the HFF breached the surface, fluid circulation focused along the fault plane to form younger, massive dolostone bodies. This study provides a snapshot of dolomitization during the earliest phases of extension, unobscured by subsequent recrystallization and geochemical modification. Contrary to many models, stratabound dolomitization preceded non-stratabound dolomitization. Fluids were hydrothermal, but with little evidence for rapid cooling and brecciation common to many HTD bodies. These results suggest that many of the features used to interpret and predict the geometry of HTD in the subsurface form during later phases of structural deformation, perhaps overprinting less structurally complex dolomite bodies.
- Received 22 July 2016.
- Revision received 14 November 2016.
- Accepted 16 November 2016.
- ©The Authors
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