Epigenetic silicification of the Upper Oxfordian limestones in the Sokole Hills (Kraków-Częstochowa Upland): relationship to facies development and tectonics

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A spectacular epigenetic silicification was encountered in the Oxfordian bedded limestones exposed in the Sokole Hills situated in the Krakow-Częstochowa Upland. The main epigenetic mineral is microcrystalline quartz accompanied by minor goethite, hematite, barite, galena and sphalerite. Locally, the mineralized limestones reveal Pb and Cu contents exceeding over 150 times the background values of these metals in unmineralized limestones.

The epigenetic mineralization of the bedded limestones was probably a two-stage process. During the first, Early Cretaceous stage, silicified limestones formed at the erosional surface of a denuded carbonate complex. Such silicification greatly limited the progress of the first karstification phase of the Upper Jurassic carbonates initiated in the Hauterivian. The sources of silica accumulated in the limestones were descending solutions enriched in silica derived from the weathering zone. This silicification affected the topmost part of the Upper Jurassic massive limestones and the deeper portions of the bedded limestones along the fracture systems and stylolites.

Early Cretaceous tectonic activity generated new dislocations and re-opened the existing faults, which were subsequently filled with permeable Albian quartz sands. These openings became the migration pathways for ascending, warm, relict, sulphide-carrying hydrothermal solutions at the second formation stage of the epigenetic mineralization. The newly supplied silica from the Albian sands precipitated on the silicified limestones and, as concentric rims, on brecciated, early diagenetic cherts. The second-stage mineralization proceeded under phreatic conditions, presumably close to a fluctuating mixing zone of ascending, warm hydrothermal solutions and descending cold groundwaters. The brecciated cherts acting as silica crystallization nuclei indicate that the last mineralization stage probably followed the final phase of Cenozoic faulting

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