Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel

Cap Carbonates

  • Joachim Reitner
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_44


Cap carbonates are unusual deposits of dolostones and limestones, often enriched in barite, that sharply overlie Neoproterozoic glacial deposits. They are from 2 to 50 m thick and occur on shallow platforms, shelves, and slopes worldwide, even in regions otherwise lacking in carbonate strata.

Glaciation events during the late Neoproterozoic (Cryogenian–Ediacaran) are widespread on Earth, reflecting up to four global ice ages (“Snowball Earth Hypothesis”) between 730 and 580 Ma. Numerous publications dealing with these events exist (for example, see Chapter by Hoffman P.F., Snowball Earth, this volume; Shields, 2005; Jiang et al., 2003). Some of them exhibit characteristic, microcrystalline cap dolostones, and also limestones, which is unique and reflects a climate paradox. Particularly the Marinoan glaciation ca. 635 Ma ago is peculiar, because it provides evidence for low altitude glaciation at equatorial latitudes. Three models have been proposed to explain an increase in...


Cold Seep Anaerobic Oxidation Shallow Marine Environment Aragonite Crystal Microbial Sulfate Reduction 
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  1. Jiang, G., Kennedy, M. J., and Christie-Blick, N., 2003. Stable isotopes evidence for methane seeps in Neoproterozoic postglacial cap carbonates. Nature, 426, 822–826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Shields, G. A., 2005. Neoproterozoic cap carbonates: a critical appraisal of existing models and plumeworld hypothesis. Terra Nova, 17, 299–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim Reitner
    • 1
  1. 1.Geobiology Group Geoscience CenterUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany