Connate fluids

In geology and sedimentology, connate fluids are liquids that were trapped in the pores of sedimentary rocks as they were deposited. These liquids are largely composed of water, but also contain many mineral components as ions in solution.

As rocks are buried, they undergo lithification and the connate fluids are usually expelled. If the escape route for these fluids is blocked, the pore fluid pressure can build up, leading to overpressure.


An understanding of the geochemistry of connate fluids is important if the diagenesis of the rock is to be quantified. The solutes in the connate fluids often precipitate and reduce the porosity and permeability of the host rock, which can have important implications for its hydrocarbon prospectivity. The chemical components of the connate fluid can also yield information on the provenance of aquifers and of the thermal history of the host rock. Minute bubbles of fluid are often trapped within the crystals of the cementing material. These fluid inclusions provide direct information about the composition of the fluid and the pressure-temperature conditions that existed during diagenesis of the sediments.

Some analyses of connate water samples from Louisiana (USA) compared to seawater

Average of samples from Tertiary formations Average of samples from Cretaceous formations
Constituent Seawater mg/l Connate water mg/l Ratio Connate/Sea Water Connate water mg/l Ratio Connate/Sea Water
Lithium 0.2 3 15 4 20
Sodium 10,600 37,539 3.5 28,462 2.7
Potassium 380 226 0.59 193 0.51
Calcium 400 2,077 5.2 4,999 12
Magnesium 1,300 686 0.53 606 0.47
Strontium 8 148 19 346 43
Barium 0.03 73 2,430 48.3 1,608
Boron 4.8 20 4.1 27.5 5.7
Chloride 19,000 63,992 3.4 54,910 2.9
Bromide 65 79 1.2 287 4.4
Iodide 0.05 21 420 37 740
Sulphate 2,690 104 0.039 206 0.077
Source: A. Gene Collins, "Geochemistry of some petroleum-associated waters from Louisiana," US Bureau of Mines, Rept. of Investigations 7326, January 1970.

Similar, but different in origin, is the concept of fossil water, which is used to describe very old groundwater found in deep aquifers or bedrock. Typically it was recharged during a different climatic period (e.g., the last ice age) so is also very old, but possibly not of the same genesis as the rock.

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