Fluid evolution at the Variscan front in the vicinity of the Aachen thrust

S. Sindern, F.M. Meyer, M.J. Lögering, J. Kolb, T. Vennemann, J. Schwarzbauer

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Quartz-carbonate-chlorite veins were studied in borehole samples of the RWTH-1 well in Aachen. Veins formed in Devonian rocks in the footwall of the Aachen thrust during Variscan deformation and associated fluid flow. Primary fluid inclusions indicate subsolvus unmixing of a homogenous H2O-CO2-CH 4-(N 2)-Na-(K)-Cl fluid into a H 2O-Na-(K)-Cl solution and a vapour-rich CO2-(H 2O, CH4, N2) fluid. The aqueous end-member composition resembles that of metamorphic fluids of the Variscan front zone with salinities ranging from 4 to 7% NaCl equiv. and maximum homogenisation temperatures of close to 400°C. Pressure estimates indicate a burial depth between 4,500 and 8,000 m at geothermal gradients between 50 and 75°C/26 MPa, but pressure decrease to sublithostatic conditions is also indicated, probably as a consequence of fracture opening during episodic seismic activity. A second fluid system, mainly preserved in pseudo-secondary and secondary fluid inclusions, is characterised by fluid temperatures between 200 and 250°C and salinities of <5% NaCl equiv. Bulk stable isotope analyses of fluids released from vein quartz, calcite, and dolomite by decrepitation yielded δDH2O values from -89 to -113 ‰, δ13CCH4 from -26. 9 to -28. 9‰ (VPDB) and δ13CCO2 from -12. 8 to -23. 3‰ (VPDB). The low δD and δ13C range of the fluids is considered to be due to interaction with cracked hydrocarbons. The second fluid influx caused partial isotope exchange and disequilibrium. It is envisaged that an initial short lived flux of hot metamorphic fluids expelled from the epizonal metamorphic domains of the Stavelot-Venn massif. The metamorphic fluid was focused along major thrust faults of the Variscan front zone such as the Aachen thrust. A second fluid influx was introduced from formation waters in the footwall of the Aachen thrust as a consequence of progressive deformation. Mixing of the cooler and lower salinity formation water with the hot metamorphic fluid during episodic fluid trapping resulted in an evolving range of physicochemical fluid inclusion characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-108
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Aachen
  • Fluid inclusions
  • H-C-O isotopes
  • Palaeo-fluid flow
  • Variscan front zone

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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