Marine and Petroleum Geology vol:26 issue:8 pages:1580-1591
Up to 10 m in length and >1 m in diameter tubular, calcite-cemented sandstone concretions are hosted by the faulted Dikilitash unconsolidated sands and sandstones. These structures document shallow subsurface pathways of Early Eocene methane seepage in the Balkan Mountains foreland (NE Bulgaria). Their exceptional exposure allowed a unique study of the factors governing the morphology and spatial distribution of such fossilized fluid conduits. The large dimensions and subvertical, cylindrical shape of the most common tube type primarily reflects the buoyancy-driven, vertical path of an ascending gas-bearing fluid through permeable, mainly unconsolidated sandy host sediments. Tube morphology was also influenced by local stratigraphic anisotropies and might as well document differences in former seepage conditions. Mapping of >800 tubular concretions showed the NNW–NNE elongation and alignment of tube clusters and massive cemented sandstone structures. This suggests that Paleogene fault systems played a major role in directing the movement of fluids. However, within a single tube cluster, tubes are preferentially aligned, over distances up to 50 m along directions at an angle between 10° and 36° with respect to the inferred NNW–NNE, cluster parallel fault traces. In addition, cylindrical tubes of analogue dimensions are aligned over distances >100 m along N15° to N25°-oriented directions. It is hypothesized that this spatial geometry of tubular concretions reflects the complex geometry of deformations structures in fault damage zones along which fluids were preferentially channelled.