Diagenesis is the set of processes by which sediments evolve after they are deposited and begin to be buried. Diagenesis includes physical effects such as compaction and the deformation of grains in the sediment (or sedimentary rock), as well as chemical reactions such as the dissolution of grains and the precipitation of minerals to form cements in the sediment's pore space. The chemical aspects of diagenesis are of special interest here. Formerly, geologists considered chemical diagenesis to be a process by which the minerals and pore fluid in a sediment reacted with each other in response to changes in temperature, pressure, and stress. As early as the 1960s and especially since the 1970s, however, geologists have recognized that many diagenetic reactions occur in systems open to groundwater flow and mass transfer. The reactions proceed in response to a supply of reactants introduced into the sediments by flowing groundwater, which also serves to remove reaction products. Hay (1963, 1966), in studies of the origin of diagenetic zeolite, was perhaps the first to emphasize the effects of mass transport on sediment diagenesis. He showed that sediments open to groundwater flow followed reaction pathways different from those observed in sediments through which flow was restricted. Sibley and Blatt (1976) used cathodoluminescence microscopy to observe the Tuscarora orthoquartzite of the Appalachian basin. The almost nonporous Tuscarora had previously been taken as a classic example of pressure welding, but the microscopy demonstrated that the rock is not especially well compacted but, instead, tightly cemented. The rock consists of as much as 40% quartz (SiO2) cement that was apparently deposited by advecting groundwater. By the end of the decade, Hayes (1979) and Surdam and Boles (1979) argued forcefully that the extent to which diagenesis has altered sediments in sedimentary basins can be explained only by recognition of the role of groundwater flow in transporting dissolved mass. This view has become largely accepted among geoscientists, although it is clear that the scale of groundwater flow might range from the regional (e.g., Bethke and Marshak, 1990) to circulation cells perhaps as small as tens of meters (e.g., Bjorlykke and Egeberg, 1993; Aplin and Warren, 1994).
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.