--> --> Petrography and Petrophysics of the Faults Associated to Typical Features in Hypogenic Caves in the Salitre Formation (Irece Basin, Brazil). Preliminary Results

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Petrography and Petrophysics of the Faults Associated to Typical Features in Hypogenic Caves in the Salitre Formation (Irece Basin, Brazil). Preliminary Results

Abstract

ABSTRACT The recognition of karst reservoirs in carbonate rocks has become increasingly common. However, most karst features are small to be recognized in seismic sections or larger than expected to be investigated with borehole data. One way forward has been the study of analogue outcrops and caves. The present study investigates lithofacies and karst processes, which lead to the generation of the largest system of caves in South America. The study area is located in the Neoproterozoic Una Group in central-eastern Brazil. This province comprises several systems of carbonate caves, which include the Toca da Boa Vista and Barriguda caves, considered the largest caves in South America. These caves were formed mainly in dolomites of the Salitre Formation, which was deposited in a shallow marine environment in an epicontinental sea. The Salitre Formation in the cave area comprises laminated mud/wakestones, intraclastic grainstones, oncolitic grainstones, oolitic grainstones, microbial laminites, colunar stromatolites, trombolites and fine siliciclastic rocks (marls, shales, and siltites). A thin layer and chert nodules also occur at the top of the carbonate unit. Phosphate deposits are also found. Our preliminary data indicate that folds and associated joints control the main karstification event at the end of the Brasiliano orogeny (740–540 Ma). We recognized five lithofacies in the cave system: (1) Bottom layers of grainstone with cross bedding comprise the main unit affected by speleogenesis, (2) thin grainstone layers with thin siltite layers, (3) microbial laminites layers, (4) layers of columnar stromatolites, and a (5) top layer of siltite. Levels (1) to (3) are affected by intense fracturing, whereas levels (4) and (5) seal the caves and have little fracturing. Chert, calcite and gipsite veins cut across the carbonate units and play a major role in diagenesis. Our preliminary study indicate that hypogenic spelogenesis is the main process of karst development and contributed significantly to the generation of secondary porosity and permeability in the carbonate units.