• Australia;
  • diagenesis;
  • Permian;
  • polar limestone;
  • Tasmania


The Darlington (Sakmarian) and Berriedale (Artinskian) Limestones are neritic deposits that accumulated in high-latitude environments along the south-eastern margin of Pangea in what is now Tasmania. These rocks underwent a series of diagenetic processes that began in the marine palaeoenvironment, continued during rapid burial and were profoundly modified by alteration associated with the intrusion of Mesozoic igneous rocks. Marine diagenesis was important but contradictory; although dissolution took place, there was also coeval precipitation of fibrous calcite cement, phosphate and glauconite, as well as calcitization of aragonite shells. These processes are interpreted as having been promoted by mixing of shelf and upwelling deep ocean waters and enabled by microbial degradation of organic matter. In contrast to warm-water carbonates where meteoric diagenesis is important, the Darlington and Berriedale Limestones were largely unaffected by meteoric diagenesis. Only minor dissolution and local cementation took place in this diagenetic environment, although mechanical compaction was ubiquitous. Correlation with burial history curves indicates that chemical compaction became important as burial depths exceeded 150 m, promoting precipitation of extensive ferroan calcite. This effect resulted from burial by rapidly deposited, overlying, thick, late Permian and Triassic terrestrial sediments. This diagenetic pathway was, however, complicated by the subsequent intrusion of massive Mesozoic diabases and associated silicifying diagenetic fluids. Finally, fractures most probably connected with Cretaceous uplift were filled with late-stage non-ferroan calcite cement. This study suggests that both carbonate dissolution and precipitation occur in high-latitude marine palaeoenvironments and, therefore, the cold-water diagenetic realm is not always destructive in terms of diagenesis. Furthermore, it appears that for the early Permian of southern Pangea at least, there was no real difference in the diagenetic pathways taken by cool-water and cold-water carbonates.