The extent to which the diagenesis of sedimentary sequences within the UK North Sea is influenced by the passage of meteoric water is subject of current debate. Petrographic (SEM, TEM, thinsection) observation and stable isotope ratios from authigenic illite separates are used to deduce the pore-fluid evolution of the Fulmar Formation within well 29/10-2 from the Central Graben, with emphasis on the past importance of meteoric water flushing.
Petrographic observation shows the illite to have two modes of occurrence (pore-filling and as pseudomorphs after feldspar). These can be equated with two authigenic crystal morphologies (plates and laths) observed by TEM within illite separates prepared for isotopic analysis. The laths are equated with late stage ‘hairy’ pore-filling illite, the plates with illite pseudomorphs after feldspar which are difficult to date petrographically.
The δD (−55 to −87‰ SMOW) and δ18O (12.4–14.6‰ SMOW) analyses can be interpreted in terms of a conventional hydrogen-oxygen cross-plot to indicate illite precipitation from pore-waters of meteoric origin at 50–60°C. However, these predicted precipitation temperatures are irreconcilable with the observed petrographic sequence. The hydrogen isotope compositions may have undergone resetting during burial. Consequently, only the δ18O data may be confidently interpreted in terms of the conditions of illite precipitation. This implies illite growth at temperatures above 80°C from waters with δ18O between −2.5 and +6‰ SMOW, leaving the case for meteoric water flushing of the sandstones unproven.