Atmospheric conditions during the Visean (Carboniferous), and post-depositional hydrocarbon generation in the Shubenacadie Basin, Nova Scotia
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Halite has become of particular interest recently due to its potential to preserve ancient air and provide the first paleoatmospheric composition data that is not reliant on proxies. As halite precipitates, fluid inclusions become trapped within the crystal structure. Some of which also capture miniscule gas bubbles of the air present during precipitation. This study presents the first results of Visean (Carboniferous) paleoatmosphere captured in the Shubenacadie Basin, Nova Scotia. To ensure the gas-hosting fluid inclusions are of primary origin, strict screening parameters must be applied. Those deemed adequate from visual and petrographic examinations, had reasonable homogenization temperatures, argon concentration between 0.8 and 1.0 mol %, contained a sum of methane and carbon dioxide below 10 mol %, and displayed minimal gas variation within samples were used for paleoatmospheric interpretation. Trace element concentrations (Mg, K, Ca) of halite were also examined to determine if they could provide further confirmation of primary origin but further work is required to determine its viability. The few halite samples that met all the screening parameters originated from the upper MacDonald Road formation and yielded an O2 window of 11 to 16 mol %. The failed samples in the upper formations contained visible and olfactible hydrocarbons while the lower formations contained elevated methane. This hydrocarbon generation is consistent with and increasing thermal alteration index with depth due to heat generated by the underlying Mississippi Valley-Type deposit in the basin.