Massive dolomitization of a late Miocene carbonate platform: a case of mixed evaporative brines with meteoric water, Nijar, Spain



Late Miocene platform carbonates from Nijar, Spain, have been extensively dolomitized. Limestones are present in the most landward parts of the platform, in stratigraphically lower units and topographically highest outcrops, suggesting that dolomitizing fluids were derived from the adjacent Nijar Basin. The dolomite crystals range from <10 to ≈100 μm existing as both replacements and cements. Na, Cl and SO4 concentrations in the dolomites range from 200 to 1700 p.p.m., 250–650 p.p.m., and 600–7000 p.p.m., respectively, comparable with other Tertiary and modern brine dolomite values, and also overlapping values from mixing-zone dolomites. Sr concentrations range between 50 and 300 p.p.m., and the molar Sr/Ca ratios of dolomitizing fluids are estimated to range between 7× seawater brine to freshwater ratios. The δ18O and δ13C of the dolomites range from −1·0 to +4·2‰ PDB, and −4·0 to +2·0‰ PDB, respectively. 87Sr/86Sr values (0·70899–0·70928) of the dolomites range from late Miocene seawater to values greater than modern seawater.

Mixtures of freshwater with seawater and evaporative brines probably precipitated the Nijar dolomites. Modelled covariations of molar Sr/Ca vs. δ18O and Na/Ca vs. δ18O from these mixtures are consistent with those of the proposed Nijar dolomitizing fluids. Complete or partial dolomite recrystallization is ruled out by well preserved CL zoning, nonstoichiometry and quantitative water–rock interaction modelling of covariations of Na vs. Sr and δ18O vs. δ13C. The possibility of multiple dolomitization events induced by evaporative brines, seawater and freshwater, respectively, is consistent with mineral-mineral mixing modelling.

The basin-derived dolomitizing brines probably mixed with freshwater in the Nijar Basin or mixed with fresh groundwater in the platform, and were genetically related either to deposition of the Yesares gypsum or the Feos gypsum. Dolomitization occurred during either the middle Messinian or the early upper Messinian. Nijar dolomitization models may be applicable to dolomitization of other late Miocene platform carbonates of the western Mediterranean. Moreover, the Nijar models may offer an analogue for more ancient evaporite-absent platform carbonates fringing evaporite basins.