Tracing end-member fluid sources in sub-surface iron mineralization and dolomitization along a proximal fault to the dead sea transform

Yigal Erel*, Nora Listovsky, Alan Matthews, Shimon Ilani, Yoav Avni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Shear faults in Upper Cretaceous limestones of the central Negev desert adjacent to the Dead Sea Transform (DST) feature extensive ferruginous mineralization and dolomitization. This has been related to topographically driven flow of metalliferous groundwaters through an underlying clastic (Nubian Sandstone) aquifer and rise of the fluids up the fault zones. The present study combines Pb and Sr isotope measurements with detailed sampling and petrography at the eastern end of the Paran fault (Menuha Ridge) in order to identify the types of groundwater and the sources of enriched elements in this regional-scale sedimentary mineralization. Ferroan and non-ferroan dolomitization along the Paran fault caused significant enrichment of several elements (Mg, Cu, Mn, Ni, V, Zn, Pb, and U) and 87Sr/86Sr values that are significantly higher than the Upper Cretaceous limestone country rock. The non-ferroan dolomite and the ferroan dolomite sampled at three sites along the Menuha Ridge have similar 87Sr/86Sr values 0.7076-0.7089, and 0.7077-0.7086, respectively. Additionally, there is a positive correlation between Mg-content of the dolomites and their 87Sr/86Sr values. The isotopic composition of Sr and Pb of dolomite corresponds to the mineralogical type identified in the mineralized rock (non-ferroan dolomite, simple-zoned ferroan dolomite, and complex-zoned ferroan dolomite). The 207Pb/204Pb and 206Pb/204Pb ratios of Fe oxides and dolomites from the three sites plot on a straight line, where the simple-zoned ferroan dolomite values are at the non-radiogenic end of the line and the complex-zoned ferroan dolomites at the radiogenic end. Both 206Pb/204Pb and 207Pb/204Pb ratios in dolomites and to a lesser degree in Fe-oxides suggest that a mixing between two end-members controls the behavior of Pb in the mineralization products along the Paran fault. Rather than a single fluid source, the study indicates that two types of metalliferous groundwaters were involved in the dolomitization and mineralization along the Paran fault. The first, and hitherto undocumented, fluid source is the Mg-rich Dead Sea Rift brine, migrating in the sub-surface before dolomitizing the carbonate bedrock. Migration of the brines took a deep path to the site of mineralization, with temperatures reaching 75 °C. Based on the geological history of the region, this probably took place in the Late Miocene-Early Pliocene interval. The second type of groundwater acquired its high solute concentrations from leaching igneous rocks and clastic sediments in the sub-surface, and infiltrated along the Paran fault, precipitating Fe-rich minerals and caused the first stage of dolomitization. This groundwater flowed at shallower depth than the DSR brines, and at lower temperatures (T ≤ 50 °C). The study shows that sedimentary mineralization in faults adjacent to active transform fault zones may arise from the combination of several different fluid flow regimes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5552-5570
Number of pages19
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number22
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank L. Halitz, S. Ehrlich, O. Yoffe, I. Segal, and N. Tepliakov of the Geological Survey of Israel, R. Nissan of the HU for technical help, and M. Appold and an anonymous reviewer for thoughtful and useful comments. This work was supported by Israel Science Foundation Grant 455/00.


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