Origin and mixing history of brines, Palo Duro Basin, Texas, U.S.A.

L. Paul Knauth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Formation waters in the Palo Duro Basin, Texas, U.S.A. fall into four major groups based on integrated chemical and isotopic characteristics: (1) interbed brines within the major Permian evaporite aquitard; these are the most chemically concentrated and 18O-rich fluids in the basin, and are interpreted as evaporatively concentrated sea water which has been hydrologically isolated since the Permian; (2) brines below the salt on the eastern side of the basin have ClBr, divalent cation, and isotopic systematics indicating a mixture of evaporatively concentrated sea water and meteoric water of δD = -20%; (3) brines below the salt on the western side of the basin have chemical and isotopic systematics suggesting a mixture of two pulses of meteoric water, one with δD = -20% and the other with δD = -55%; and (4) waters above the salt have the isotopic composition of meteoric waters. Diagenetic alteration of the cation chemistry has occurred for brines within and below the salt. Aquifers below the salt on the eastern side are interpreted as having been charged with dense Permian evaporite brines which subsequently mixed in various amounts with a basin-wide pulse of Triassic meteoric water. On the western side the descending Triassic meteoric waters became saline by dissolution of halite and are currently mixing with a Tertiary pulse of meteoric water initiated by the Laramide uplift to the west. The hydrochemistry suggests flow on the western side of the basin and static conditions on the eastern side. An unrecognized, approximately N-S permeability restriction, or discontinuity in the potentiometric flow surface, is inferred for major aquifers in the central area of the basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-474
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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