Changes in Carbon and Oxygen Isotope Composition during Limestone Diagenesis

  1. Maurice E. Tucker4 and
  2. Robin G. C. Bathurst5
  1. J. A. D. Dickson1 and
  2. M. L. Coleman2,†

Published Online: 29 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304510.ch21

Carbonate Diagenesis

Carbonate Diagenesis

How to Cite

Dickson, J. A. D. and Coleman, M. L. (1990) Changes in Carbon and Oxygen Isotope Composition during Limestone Diagenesis, in Carbonate Diagenesis (eds M. E. Tucker and R. G. C. Bathurst), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304510.ch21

Editor Information

  1. 4

    Department of Geological Sciences, University of Durham, UK

  2. 5

    Derwen Deg Fawr, Llanfair DC, Ruthin, Clwyd, North Wales, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Geology, The University, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK

  2. 2

    Institute of Geological Sciences, 64 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8NG, UK

  1. Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge; and BP Research Centre, Sunbury, Middlesex

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 21 AUG 1990

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632029389

Online ISBN: 9781444304510



  • changes in carbon and oxygen isotope composition - limestone diagenesis;
  • light oxygen values, indicating re-equilibration;
  • lowest Derbyhaven Beds, consisting oolitic and intraclastic grainstones;
  • fine-grained sandstones, accompanying these shale intercalations;
  • Limestones from Derbyhaven Beds, containing crinoid columnals;
  • oxygen-bearing mineral phases, filling primary pores of Derbyhaven rocks


The calcite fossils of the Derbyhaven Beds, Isle of Man, have δ13C values (+1·8 PDB) similar to modern, shallow-water marine skeletons, but the δ13O values (−6·1 PDB) are much lighter than modern skeletons. The light oxygen values indicate either re-equilibration with isotopically light water before cementation started, or Carboniferous sea water with δ18O of −6‰. Aragonite dissolution was followed by precipitation of zoned calcite cement. In this cement, up to six intracrystalline zones, recognized in stained thin sections, show isotopic variation. Carbon varies from +3·8 to +1·2‰ and oxygen from −2·6 to −12·4‰ with decreasing age of the cement. This trend is attributed to increasing temperature and to isotopic evolution of the pore waters during burial. The zoned calcite is sequentially followed by dolomite and kaolinite cements which continue the trend towards light isotopic values. This trend is continued with younger, fault-controlled dolomite, and is terminated by vein-filling calcite and dolomite. The younger calcite, interpreted as a near-surface precipitate from meteoric waters, is unrelated to the older sequence of carbonates and has distinctly different carbon isotope ratios: δ13C −6·8‰.