Dolomitization of the Waulsortian Limestone (Lower Carboniferous) in the Irish Midlands


The Waulsortian Limestone (Lower Carboniferous) of the southern Irish Midlands is dolomitized pervasively over a much larger region than previous studies have documented. This study indicates a complex, multistage, multiple fluid history for regional dolomitization. Partially and completely dolomitized sections of Waulsortian Limestones are characterized by finely crystalline (0·01-0·3 mm) planar dolomite. Planar replacive dolomite is commonly followed by coarse (≥0·5 mm) nonplanar replacive dolomite, and pervasive void-filling saddle dolomite cement is frequently associated with Zn-Pb mineralization. Planar dolomite has average δ18O and δ13C values (‰PDB) of -4·8 and 3·9 respectively. These are lower oxygen and slightly higher carbon isotope values than averages for marine limestones in the Waulsortian (δ18O = -2·2, δ13C = 3·7). Mean C and O isotope values of planar replacive dolomite are also distinct from those of nonplanar and saddle dolomite cement (-7·0 and 3·3; -7·4 and 2·4 respectively). Fluid inclusions indicate a complex history involving at least three chemically and thermally distinct fluids during dolomite cementation. The petrography and geochemistry of planar dolomites are consistent with an early diagenetic origin, possibly in equilibrium with modified Carboniferous sea water. Where the Waulsortian was exposed to hydrothermal fluids (70-280°C), planar dolomite underwent a neomorphic recrystallization to a coarser crystalline, planar and nonplanar dolomite characterized by lower δ18O values. Void-filling dolomite cement is isotopically similar to nonplanar, replacive dolomite and reflects a similar origin from hydrothermal fluids. This history of multiple stages of dolomitization is significantly more complex than earlier models proposed for the Irish Midlands and provides a framework upon which to test competing models of regional vs. localized fluid flow.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Carboniferous; Dolomitization; Fluid Flow; Ireland; Mineralization; Waulsortian; Diagenesis; Geochemistry; Petrography

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Article - Journal

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© 2001 Wiley-Blackwell, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2001