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Dolomite occurs throughout the subsurface of modern carbonate platforms such as the Bahamas. Groundwater flow systems must be responsible for delivery of reactants needed for dolomitization. Reflux, freshwater lens flows, and thermal convection are large-scale flow systems that may be widespread in active platforms. I have evaluated some
aspects of the dynamics and characteristics of these processes with ground-water flow theory and by scaled sandbox experiments. Reflux is not restricted to hypersaline brines, but can occur with bankwaters of only slightly elevated salinity such as those found on the Bahama Banks today (42 ^pmil). The lack of evaporites in a stratigraphic section, therefore, does not rule out the possibility that reflux may have operated. Flows associated with freshwater lenses include flow in the lens, in the mixing zone, and in the seawater beneath and offshore of the lens. Upward transfer of seawater through the platform margins occurs when surrounding cold ocean water migrates into the platform and is heated. This type of thermal convection ("Kohout convection") has been studied by Francis Kohout n south Florida. The ranges of mass flux of magnesium in these processes are all comparable and are all sufficient to account for young dolomites beneath modern platforms. Each process yields dolomitized zones of characteristic shape and location and perhaps may be distinguishable in ancient rocks. The concepts presented here may have application to exploration for dolomite reservoirs in the Gulf Coast and elsewhere.
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