The geometry and petrogenesis of hydrothermal dolomites at Navan, Ireland



The dolomites at Navan, Ireland, formed in Courceyan peritidal and shallow-shelf limestones. The dolomite body has a plume-like geometry, cross-cutting both lithological boundaries and diagenetic barriers generated by sea-floor cementation and emergence. The dolomitizing fluids rose parallel to major faults to diffuse laterally through the succession, controlled by variations in permeability that reflect both facies variation on deposition and pre-dolomitization diagenesis.

Cathodoluminescent zones reveal three principal stages of dolomite emplacement, separated by dissolution surfaces, with each stage reflecting several changes in the character of dolomitizing solutions. The predominance of dull zones indicates burial rather than surface conditions. The dolomites formed some time after burial in response to an areally limited hydrothermally-driven flow. Isotope values (σ18O of — 6σ6 to — 10.4%δ and σ13C of — 0σ2 to +2σ5%δ PDB), and fluid inclusion data, suggest that these fluids had compositions similar to those of Carboniferous seawater. However, these became hotter with time, with temperature increasing from 60 to 160δC.

The Navan dolomites are closely associated with Europe's largest zinc-lead deposit. The distribution of the ores follows the same trend as that of the dolomites and paragenetic relationships indicate that dolomitization and mineralization were temporally and genetically related.