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ABSTRACT

The formation of dolomite is generally explained using models that reflect larger-scale processes that describe the relationship between the supply and transport of Mg, and geochemical conditions that are amenable to the formation of dolomite. However, heterogeneities in the substrate, such as those made by bioturbating infauna, may play a more important role in dolomitization than has been previously considered. Burrow-facilitated dolomitization is evident in the Ordovician Tyndall Stone (Red River Group, Selkirk Formation) of central Canada. The diagenetic fabrics present are attributed to dolomitizing fluids that both flowed through and evolved within burrow networks. Petrographic analysis suggests that two phases of dolomite formation took place. The first formed a fine-grained, fabric-destructive type that probably accompanied early burial; the second is a fine- to medium-grained, locally sucrosic dolomite that is interpreted to have precipitated during later burial. Isotopic analysis supports the proposed paragenetic history: (1) an apparent linking of the stable isotopes 13C and 18O strongly suggests that the micrite matrix formed during very early diagenesis and was derived from seawater; (2) the initial phase of dolomitization is potentially microbially mediated, as evidenced by the enrichment of 13C; and (3) isotopic values for the second generation of dolomite reflect the mixing of ground water and resorbed early dolomite. This paper conceptualizes the physical and chemical conditions required for the formation of dolomite in association with burrow fabrics. The proposed model reveals a composite of biological and inorganic reactions that demonstrates the interdependence of sediment fabric, organic content and microbial interactions in the development of burrow-mottled dolomitic limestone. It is suggested that where burrow-associated dolomite occurs, it is most likely to develop in two stages: first, the byproducts of the degradation of organic material in burrows locally increase the permeability and porosity around burrow fabrics in shallow diagenetic depositional environments; and, second, the passing of burrowed media into deeper dysaerobic sediment is accompanied by the establishment of fermenting micro-organisms whose byproducts mediate dolomitization.