Pore-water evolution and solute-transport mechanisms in Opalinus Clay at Mont Terri and Mont Russelin (Canton Jura, Switzerland)

  • Martin Mazurek
  • Antoine de Haller
Part of the Swiss Journal of Geosciences Supplement book series (SWISSGEO, volume 5)


Data pertinent to pore-water composition in Opalinus Clay in the Mont Terri and Mont Russelin anticlines have been collected over the last 20 years from longterm in situ pore-water sampling in dedicated boreholes, from laboratory analyses on drillcores and from the geochemical characteristics of vein infills. Together with independent knowledge on regional geology, an attempt is made here to constrain the geochemical evolution of the pore-waters. Following basin inversion and the establishement of continental conditions in the late Cretaceous, the Malm limestones acted as a fresh-water upper boundary leading to progressive out-diffusion of salinity from the originally marine pore-waters of the Jurassic low-permeability sequence. Model calculations suggest that at the end of the Palaeogene, pore-water salinity in Opalinus Clay was about half the original value. In the Chattian/Aquitanian, partial evaporation of sea-water occurred. It is postulated that brines diffused into the underlying sequence over a period of several Myr, resulting in an increase of salinity in Opalinus Clay to levels observed today. This hypothesis is further supported by the isotopic signatures of SO 4 2– and 87Sr/86Sr in current pore-waters. These are not simple binary mixtures of sea and meteoric water, but their Cl and stable water-isotope signatures can be potentially explained by a component of partially evaporated sea-water. After the reestablishment of fresh-water conditions on the surface and the formation of the Jura Fold and Thrust Belt, erosion caused the activation of aquifers embedding the low-permeability sequence, leading to the curved profiles of various pore-water tracers that are observed today. Fluid flow triggered by deformation events during thrusting and folding of the anticlines occurred and is documented by infrequent vein infills in major fault structures. However, this flow was spatially focussed and of limited duration and so did not markedly affect the bulk pore-water.


Geochemical evolution Pore-water tracers Sea-water evaporation Diffusion Fluid flow Veins Nuclear waste disposal 


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We thank Paul Wersin, Albert Matter (both Uni. Bern) and Andreas Gautschi (Nagra) for useful discussions. Detailed and constructive reviews by A. Bath (Intellisci, UK) and J. M. Matray (IRSN, France) helped to improve the manuscript.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Geological SciencesUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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