• Dolomite;
  • Floridan aquifer;
  • maturation;
  • mixing zone


Palaeogene dolostones from the sub-surface of Florida are ideal for the study of dolomite maturation because they record the early stages of a secondary dolomite overprint without destruction by later diagenetic overprints. Two distinct dolomite textures occur in the dolostones of the Upper Eocene Ocala and Lower Oligocene Suwannee limestones in west-central Florida: a porous and permeable sucrosic dolomite and a less porous and relatively impermeable indurated non-sucrosic dolomite. In both textures, the initial matrix dolomite is dully luminescent, whereas the secondary overprint is dominantly luminescent cement in the Suwannee and only neomorphic luminescent dolomite in the Ocala. The abundance of luminescent dolomite ranges from 2% to 38%, which translates to 1·6 km3 of material in the Suwannee and 13·5 km3 in the Ocala. Extrapolated trace-element contents (Sr and Na) and δ18O values for the matrix and luminescent end-members indicate a marine origin for the matrix dolomite in both units, and a freshwater–seawater mixing-zone origin for the secondary luminescent dolomites. The δ18O values indicate that a saline, middle mixing-zone environment overprinted the Suwannee but a more dilute mixing zone affected the Ocala. Fluid–fluid mixing models constrained by modern Floridan aquifer hydrochemistry and extrapolated 87Sr/86Sr values of the luminescent phases indicate that the mixing zones operated during the Late Miocene to Pliocene in the Ocala and affected the Suwannee in the Pliocene. The luminescent Suwannee mixing-zone cement reduced porosity up to threefold and permeability up to 100-fold, which converted many sucrosic dolomites to indurated dolomites. By contrast, the neomorphic luminescent Ocala dolomite did not have an appreciable impact on the maturations. Although freshwater–seawater mixing zones were not the sites of the initial dolomitization, the mixing-zone environment did dramatically overprint and mature the regionally widespread dolomites of the Ocala and Suwannee limestones. This maturation occurred shortly after formation of the proto-Floridan aquifer; the timing suggests the matrix dolomites were ‘ripe’ for alteration and that the only prerequisite for mixing-zone dolomite is pre-existing dolomite substrates to reduce kinetic barriers. In contrast to recent claims, the results of this study demonstrate that mixing zones can be effective in forming regionally significant amounts of secondary dolomite and influencing the petrophysical maturation of dolomite bodies.