Research project

Project fact sheet

Stylolitization in Eocene carbonates (IODP Expedition 317, New Zealand)

Project researcher(s): 
Dr Veerle Vandeginste
Project supervisor(s): 
Dr Cédric M. John
November, 2009 - July, 2012


Stylolites, recognized as irregular planes of discontinuity, are very common in carbonate rocks. Stylolitization or the formation of stylolites and other pressure solution features is a physico-chemical process induced by burial compaction or tectonic compression. Since stylolites can act either as fluid flow barriers or as fluid flow pathways, it is important to predict their behaviour and where they occur in oil and gas reservoirs and in carbon capture and storage applications. Understanding the interplay between lithology, burial depth or tectonic compression and stylolite formation and characteristics or morphology is the key for better predictions.


Our project investigates stylolites in the carbonate-bearing rocks of late Eocene to early Miocene age in cores from IODP Hole 317-U1352C. This study is mainly focused on the diagenetic aspect of pressure solution and potentially related fracturation and cementation with emphasis on petrography and geochemistry. In this research, we assess the impact of that different parameters (related to the host rock and the burial history) can have on stylolitization. Also the interplay between fluid flow, fracturation, cementation and stylolitization is investigated to gain insight on fluid mobility associated to the stylolites. The samples are studied using microscopy, mineralogy and geochemistry of both the limestone host rock and the insoluble residue along the stylolites.

Dr. Veerle Vandeginste is the principal investigator on this project; it forms a small-scale side project in her postdoctoral research. This project is carried out in collaboration with Dr. Cédric John.