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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists


The Mountain Geologist
Vol. 53 (2016), No. 4. (October), Pages 229-258

Dolomitization of supratidal to shallow-marine carbonates in the Pennsylvanian successions of the Wyoming Shelf

Sébastien Blanchard, Tracy D. Frank, Christopher R. Fielding


Laterally extensive beds of dolomitized carbonate are found interbedded with eolian to peritidal sandstones in the hydrocarbon-producing Pennsylvanian to earliest Permian successions of the Wyoming Shelf, USA. Subsurface and surface correlations often rely on these dolomite intervals yet their origin is poorly constrained. To characterize the nature of dolomitization, we integrate petrography, carbon and oxygen isotope data, and sedimentological characteristics of pervasively dolomitized shallow-marine, supratidal, and pedogenic facies in the Amsden and Tensleep Formations of the Bighorn Basin (early to middle Pennsylvanian, northern Wyoming). Stable isotopic compositions are compared with the documented isotopic signature of protodolomite forming on present-day arid coastlines. The composition of fine- to medium-grained dolomitized matrix differs from that of late-stage calcite spars, suggesting that dolomites preserve a primary or early diagenetic signal. The δ18O values of dolomites (-1.2 to 7.6‰ VPDB) display a similar range to that of modern protodolomite forming in the tidal flats of the coast of Abu Dhabi. The δ13C values, however, are consistently lower than expected if dolomite had precipitated from sea-water. These relationships suggest that dolomite incorporated a considerable amount of isotopically light carbon during primary formation or later during overgrowth and/or recrystallization of the initial protodolomite. Pennsylvanian and earliest Permian successions in Wyoming, Montana, and northeastern Utah display very similar diagenetic modifications (i.e., pervasive dolomitization, evaporite replacement, silicification), suggesting that the models discussed here may be applicable to these contemporaneous formations.

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