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Petrography and geochemistry of early-stage, fine- and medium-crystalline dolomites in the Middle Devonian Presqu’ile Barrier at Pine Point, Canada

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Abstract

The petrography and geochemistry of fine- and medium-crystalline dolomites of the Middle Devonian Presqu’ile barrier at Pine Point (Western Canada Sedimentary Basin) are different from those of previously published coarse-crystalline and saddle dolomites that are associated with late-stage hydrothermal fluids. Fine-crystalline dolomite consists of subhedral to euhedral crystals, ranging from 5 to 25 μm (mean 8 μm). The dolomite interbedded with evaporitic anhydrites that occur in the back-barrier facies in the Elk Point Basin. Fine-crystalline dolomite has δ18Ο values between −1·6 to –3·8‰ PDB and 87Sr/86Sr ratios from 0·7079–0·7081, consistent with derivation from Middle Devonian seawater. Its Sr concentrations (55–225 p.p.m., mean 105 p.p.m.) follow a similar trend to modern Little Bahama seawater dolomites. Its rare earth element (REE) patterns are similar to those of the limestone precursors. These data suggest that this fine-crystalline dolomite formed from Middle Devonian seawater at or just below the sea floor.

Medium-crystalline dolomite in the Presqu’ile barrier is composed of anhedral to subhedral crystals (150–250 μm, mean 200 μm), some of which have clear rims toward the pore centres. This dolomite occurs mostly in the southern lower part of the barrier. Medium-crystalline dolomite has δ18O values between −3·7 to −9·4‰ PDB (mean −5·9‰ PDB) and 87Sr/86Sr ratios from 0·7081–0·7087 (mean 0·7084); Sr concentrations from 30 to 79 p.p.m. (mean 50 p.p.m.) and Mn content from 50 to 253 p.p.m. (mean 161 p.p.m.); and negative Ce anomalies compared with those of marine limestones. The medium-crystalline dolomite may have formed either (1) during shallow burial at slightly elevated temperatures (35–40 °C) from fluids derived from burial compaction, or, more likely (2) soon after deposition of the precursor sediments by Middle Devonian seawater derived from the Elk Point Basin.

These results indicate that dolomitization in the Middle Devonian Presqu’ile barrier occurred in at least two stages during evolution of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. The geochemistry of earlier formed dolomites may have been modified if the earlier formed dolomites were porous and permeable and water/rock ratios were large during neomorphism.

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