New Interpretations of Great Salt Lake Ooids and of Ancient Non-Skeletal Carbonate Mineralogy

  1. Maurice E. Tucker2 and
  2. Robin G. C. Bathurst3
  1. Philip A. Sandberg

Published Online: 29 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304510.ch26

Carbonate Diagenesis

Carbonate Diagenesis

How to Cite

Sandberg, P. A. (1990) New Interpretations of Great Salt Lake Ooids and of Ancient Non-Skeletal Carbonate Mineralogy, in Carbonate Diagenesis (eds M. E. Tucker and R. G. C. Bathurst), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304510.ch26

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Geological Sciences, University of Durham, UK

  2. 3

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

Author Information

  1. Department of Geology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

Publication History

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

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632029389

Online ISBN: 9781444304510



  • Great Salt Lake ooids and of ancient non-skeletal carbonate mineralogy - interpretations;
  • radial texture in ancient calcitic ooids, original;
  • pleistocene ooids;
  • Mississippian ooids, retaining fine texture;
  • diagenetic behaviour of ancient aragonitic skeletal andnon-skeletal grains;
  • neomorphic calcite, replacing skeletal aragonites


Earlier interpretations of textural alteration affecting Great Salt Lake ooids have greatly influenced concepts of ooid diagenesis. Scanning electron microscope study shows, however, that the coarse radial aragonite rays are depositional, that no recrystallization of pellet cores has occurred, and that Great Salt Lake ooids have not suffered noticeable diagenesis. As suggested by Kahle (1974), radial texture in ancient calcitic ooids is probably mainly original, not diagenetic. Retention of such fine textures has been attributed to organic matter (since found to be equivalent in modern skeletal and non-skeletal grains) or to paramorphic replacement (proposed for non-skeletal grains whose original aragonite mineralogy was only inferred from modern analogs). Pleistocene ooids known to have been aragonite alter like aragonite shells to coarse neomorphic calcite, often with aragonite relics. The striking uniformity of that coarse texture in neomorphic calcite replacing known skeletal aragonites throughout the geologic record has been noted for over 100 years. In contrast, Mississippian ooids retain fine texture as do calcite layers of coexisting gastropods, but unlike the strongly altered aragonite layers of these same gastropods. Therefore, inferences of original aragonitic mineralogy of ancient non-skeletal carbonate grains (including muds) which are now calcite but retain fine texture appear unwarranted, as do assumptions of differential diagenetic behaviour of ancient aragonitic skeletal and non-skeletal grains. Accordingly, modern depositional environments of marine ooids and carbonate muds must be rejected as chemically unrepresentative of comparable ancient environments. It is inferred that ancient non-skeletal carbonates were originally predominantly or exclusively calcite because of an earlier lower oceanic Mg/Ca ratio (< 2/1) which altered progressively to values favouring aragonite (modern Mg/Ca value = 5/1). Major influencing factors are: selective removal of calcium by planktonic foraminifers and coccolithophorids since Jurassic-Cretaceous time and by abundant younger, Mg-poor aragonite skeletons and an erratic trend toward decreasing dolomite formation (decreasing removal of oceanic Mg). The change to aragonite dominance over calcite for non-skeletal carbonates was probably during early to middle Cenozoic time.