Marine-derived dolomite in the shallowly buried temperate Port Campbell Limestone (Miocene), Otway Basin, Australia



The Miocene Port Campbell Limestone in the Otway Basin (Port Campbell Embayment), south-eastern Australia, is a shallowly buried (<350 m), temperate carbonate grainstone which consists primarily of benthonic foraminifera, bryozoans, brachiopods, echinoids and planktonic foraminifera. Volumetrically insignificant calcite cements include scalenohedral, blocky and syntaxial overgrowths. Dolomite is present in variable amounts (1–25%), scattered throughout the unit as euhedral rhombs, usually comprising <2% of the whole rock volume. The dolomite post-dates the calcite cements and is mainly an interparticle cement with crystal size varying between 10 and 150 μm (mean 50 μm). Under cathodoluminescence the dolomite rhombs have a dull core and a nonluminescent outer rim.

The dolomite is nonstoichiometric, Ca-rich (Ca54–62Mg38–46), with high trace element concentrations. The Mn concentrations range from 0 to 310 p.p.m. in the crystal cores (mean 140 p.p.m.) and 80–240 p.p.m. in the crystal rims (mean 140 p.p.m.). The Fe concentrations increase from the crystal cores (range 640–5690 p.p.m.; mean 2030 p.p.m.) to the crystal rims (range 2840–9440 p.p.m.; mean 6040 p.p.m.), whereas the Sr concentrations decrease from the crystal cores (range 690–1510 p.p.m.; mean 1280 p.p.m.) to the crystal rims (620–1240 p.p.m.; mean 930 p.p.m.). The δ13CPDB values of the dolomite range between +2.5 and +2.6%, whereas the δ18OPDB values range from +0.3% to+0.6%.

This dolomite occurrence supports the idea that marine or near-marine dolomite can form not only syndepositionally, but also in the shallow subsurface of temperate units, soon after sediment deposition, under reducing conditions. The fine-grained, low-permeability nature of the Port Campbell Limestone contributed to the reducing conditions at shallow depth, the high trace element concentrations of the dolomite (especially in Fe) and the near marine composition of the dolomitizing fluids, as large volumes of meteoric water were inhibited.