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Microfabrics and Geochemistry of Meteorically Altered Dolomite in Devonian and Mississippian Carbonates, Montana and Idaho

  • S. L. Dorobek
  • T. M. Smith
  • P. M. Whitsitt
Part of the Frontiers in Sedimentary Geology book series (SEDIMENTARY)

Summary

Regional studies of Devonian and Mississippian carbonate sequences in Montana and Idaho illustrate the ability of meteoric water to alter early near-surface dolomite. Early precursor dolomites in these rocks formed in various near-surface settings, such as evaporitic tidal flats, shallow subsurface reflux environments, and subtidal marine environments on broad carbonate platforms that extended across the study area. The best preserved early dolomites, or their remnants, typically are nonstoichiometric, isotopically heavy, and trace element enriched. The early dolomites also generally predate compaction or early calcite cements and exhibit zoned to irregular cathodoluminescence (CL) patterns.

However, many of these early dolomites apparently were altered by meteoric fluids in shallow subsurface environments (0 to 300 m burial depth). Petrographic techniques (transmitted light, CL, and backscattered electron imaging) may define the alteration microfabrics, which include extensive dissolution porosity (both intracrystalline and intercrystalline), “dedolomitization,” and blotchy to homogeneous CL. Highly altered dolomites occur closest to recharge surfaces, typically are the most stoichiometric, and have the most negative δ 18O values. Another geochemical trend, which may indicate near-surface alteration of dolomites by meteoric waters, is the development of depleted cerium contents (“negative Ce anomaly”). The negative Ce anomaly may develop because Ce4+ is preferentially scavenged and incorporated into authigenic Fe-Mn oxyhydroxides in oxidizing near-surface diagenetic environments and, therefore, is not available for incorporation into the meteoric dolomite.

Retention of fabrics and geochemical signatures that are closest to those of the precursor dolomite are more common in downflow regions, far from recharge surfaces. In downflow portions of paleoaquifers, groundwaters most likely were saturated with respect to dolomite because of extensive dolomite dissolution updip. Early, pore-filling calcite cements in downflow regions also may seal off porosity, thus preventing reaction of precursor dolomites with later meteoric waters.

Keywords

Meteoric Water Calcite Cement Rare Earth Element Pattern Dolomite Crystal Rare Earth Element 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. L. Dorobek
  • T. M. Smith
  • P. M. Whitsitt

There are no affiliations available

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