Three major types of dolomite occur in the Trenton Formation (Mid-Ordovician) of the Michigan Basin. These are: (1) ‘regional dolomite’ which is confined to the extreme western edge of the basin; (2) ‘cap dolomite’ which occurs in the upper portion of the Trenton and is confined to the basin's southern margin; and (3) ‘fracture-related’ dolomite which occurs in association with both large- and small-scale faults and fractures. These three dolomite types can be distinguished from one another by their major element chemistry, oxygen isotope ratios and rock texture.
The regional dolomite is fine-grained, has <0.34 mol% FeCO3, and mean δ18O of −6·8‰OPBD. The cap dolomite is texturally similar to regional dolomite but contains 3–13·0 mol% FeCO3 and has a mean δ18O of −7·7‰. Fracture-related dolomites are coarse-grained, low in iron, and have the most depleted δ18O ratios (x̄=–9·0%PDB).
Petrographic relationships imply that the regional dolomite, formed prior to the cap dolomite probably during early diagenesis. The cap dolomite formed at relatively shallow depths as a result of the interaction of the overlying Utica Shale and the Trenton Limestone. Fracture-related dolomites post-date the cap dolomite and formed during deeper burial. A temperature of precipitation of approximately 80°C was calculated for fracture-related dolomites using oxygen isotope data.
The distribution of the cap dolomite was controlled by the availability of Fe2− which was in turn controlled by the availability of S2−. In the centre of the basin Trenton-Utica deposition was continuous. The upper Trenton contained relatively high concentrations of organic matter which was used by sulphate reducing bacteria to produce H2S from seawater sulphate. The precipitation of iron sulphides (pyrite + iron monosulphide) followed and used up most of the available Fe2−. As a result only small amounts of ferroan dolomite formed. On the periphery of the basin, subaerial exposure resulted in the oxidation of most of the available organic matter. Sulphate reducing bacteria were therefore limited and produced limited amounts of H2S. As a result only a minor amount of iron sulphide (iron monosulphide) formed. The remaining Fe2- was then available for the formation of the ferroan cap dolomite. This model is supported by the following: (1) In the southern margin of the basin, the contact between Trenton cap dolomite and the overlying Utica Shale is sharp and probably unconformable. In the centre of the basin the contact is gradational. (2) In the centre of the basin, the total organic carbon content in the upper Trenton is an order of magnitude higher than in the cap dolomite. (3) The whole-rock concentration of iron is high in both the cap dolomite and in slightly dolomitized equivalent beds in the basin centre. (4) Iron sulphides are abundant in the centre of the basin and mostly in the form of pyrite. In the cap dolomite, iron sulphide is minor and primarily in the form of iron monosulphide.