Determining fluid source and possible pathways during burial dolomitization of Maryville Limestone (Cambrian), Southern Appalachians, USA



Detailed petrographic analyses along a depositional transect from a carbonate platform to shale basin reveals that dolomite is the principal burial diagenctic mineral in the Maryville Limestone. This study examines the role of burial dolomitization of subtidal carbonates. Dolomite occurs as a replacement of precursor carbonate and as inter- and intraparticle cements. Four different types of dolomite are identified based on detailed petrographic and gcochemical analyses.

Type I dolomite occurs as small, irregular disseminations typically within mud-rich facies.Type II dolomite typically occurs as inclusions of planar euhedral rhombs (ferroan), 5–300 μm in size, in blocky clear ferroan calcite (meteoric) spar. Type II dolomite is non-luminescent. Type I and II dolomite formed during shallow to intermediate burial diagenesis. Type III dolomite consists of subhedral to anhedral crystals 10–150 μm in size occurring as thin seams along stylolites and as thick bands a few millimetres in width. This dolomite consists of dominantly non-luminescent rhombs and, less commonly, orange luminescent and zoned rhombs. Type IV dolomite consists of baroque or saddle-shaped, 100–1500 μm crystals, and is non-luminescent. Type IV dolomite formed during the period of maximum burial.

Types III and IV dolomite increase in abundance downslope. Type III dolomite contains 1.2–2.6 wt% Fe and a maximum of 1000 ppm Mn. The distribution of these elements displays no distinct vertical or lateral trends. In contrast, Fe and Mn distributions in Type IV dolomite exhibit distinct spatial trends, decreasing from 3.5–4.5 wl% Fe and 0.1–0.3 wt% Mn in the west (slope/basin) to 1.5–2.5 wt% Fe and less than 600 ppm Mn in the east (shelf margin), a distance of approximately 60 km. Spatial trends in Fe and Mn distributions in Type IV saddle dolomite, suggest a west-east fluid flow during late burial diagenesis. Types III and IV dolomite have a mean δ18O value of - 7.8%00 and a mean δ13C value of + 1.1%00 (relative to the PDB standard). Based on a range of assumed basinal water composition of 2.8%00 SMOW, temperatures calculated from δ18O values of Types III and IV dolomite range between 75 and 160°C. 87Sr/86Sr data for Types III and IV dolomite range from 0.7111 to 0.7139. These values are radiogenic when compared to Cambrian marine values and are consistent with the presence of a diagenetic fluid that interacted with siliciclastic sediments.

The distribution of Palaeozoic facies in the southern Appalachians indicates a Cambrian shale source for the fluids, whilst burial curves suggest a Middle Ordovician age for burial fluid movement.