Dolomite Mountains and the origin of the dolomite rock of which they mainly consist: historical developments and new perspectives



Beginning in the late 18th Century, the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy have been the location for major sedimentological developments, from the discovery of the mineral dolomite to the formulation of the coral-reef hypothesis to explain the origin of the massive dolomite structures that define the splendid scenery of the region. Further, the Dolomite Mountains have inspired voluminous research into the origin of dolomite, questioning whether dolomite is a primary precipitate or a secondary replacement product. Recently, with the recognition that microbes can mediate dolomite precipitation, a new geomicrobiological approach, combining the study of modern natural environments with bacterial culture experiments, is now being used to calibrate or interpret microbial evidence derived from the dolomite rock record. This three-pronged methodology applied to the study of dolomite formation holds great promise for future research into the ‘Dolomite Problem’ and provides a new impetus to revisit the Dolomite Mountains in the 21st Century.