Fluid Inclusions as Carbonate Microfabrics: A Petrographic Method to Determine Diagenetic History

  • Robert H. Goldstein
Part of the Frontiers in Sedimentary Geology book series (SEDIMENTARY)


Fluid inclusions in diagenetic phases are microfabrics for which petrographic study provides useful clues about diagenetic environment and subsequent thermal history. With properly prepared samples, the first step should be to determine the origin of the fluid inclusions in the context of other geologic and petrographic work. Petroleum-filled fluid inclusions can be identified using ultraviolet (UV) epifluorescence microscopy. For aqueous fluid inclusions, the next step is to describe the ratios of vapor to liquid among genetically related fluid inclusions. Then, petrographic study should identify those members of populations whose vapor-to-liquid ratios have not been altered by necking down or metastability. For those, all-liquid inclusions record entrapment below about 50°C. Inclusions with highly variable ratios of vapor to liquid, together with all-liquid inclusions, indicate entrapment in the vadose zone. A population of all-liquid fluid inclusions indicates entrapment in the low-temperature phreatic zone; however, subsequent thermal reequilibration may generate all-liquid inclusions that occur together with two-phase inclusions with small vapor bubbles. A population of two-phase inclusions with consistent ratios of vapor to liquid indicates entrapment at a single high temperature. Reequilibration of high-temperature fluid inclusions generates two-phase inclusions with only somewhat consistent ratios of vapor to liquid. Thus, determination of vapor-to-liquid ratio in genetically related fluid inclusions is diagnostic of diagenesis in the vadose zone, the low-temperature phreatic zone, and the high temperature environment; thermal reequilibration after initial entrapment can also be identified. The final step involves cracking the crystal to determine fluid inclusion internal pressure. A 1-atm pressure is diagnostic of the vadose zone, whereas high pressures or pressures near a vacuum represent entrapment or reequilibration at high temperature.


Fluid Inclusion Vadose Zone Vapor Bubble Consistent Ratio Diagenetic Environment 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1993

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  • Robert H. Goldstein

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