Porosity Evolution of the Cambrian Bonneterre Dolomite, South-Eastern Missouri, USA


The Cambrian Bonneterre Dolomite of south-eastern Missouri, USA, hosts the large Mississippi Valley type (MVT) lead-zinc-copper ore deposits of the region. The Bonneterre Dolomite consists of dolomitized algal bioherms, oolitic grainstone and associated lithologies that were deposited on a carbonate platform surrounding the Precambrian age St Francois Mountains. Porosity was determined by point counting thin sections from cores and mines in the Bonneterre Dolomite and by gas porosimetry. Volumes of epigenetic cements were estimated by point counting cement filling micro- and mesoporosity using cathodoluminescence. Cement volumes were added to present porosity to estimate porosities during various stages of mineralization. Prior to the onset of mineralization, micro- and mesoporosity in the Bonneterre Dolomite averaged approximately 19%. Precipitation of early dolomite cement (roughly concurrent with the main period of sulphide deposition) reduced average porosity to approximately 7% and closed off much of the intercrystalline pore space. Later cementation by dolomite (prior to late stage sulphides) reduced porosity to approximately 5%, and late cementation by quartz further reduced porosity to the present average value of < 4%. Periods of carbonate dissolution during MVT mineralization enhanced large scale megaporosity associated with fractures and breccias but did not significantly increase smaller scale porosity. Dolomite cementation associated with MVT mineralization, porosity and permeability were facies controlled. Today, as a result of mineralization, large scale fractures and breccias control porosity and permeability. This study indicates that dolomite porosity may undergo significant change during basinal brine migrations associated with MVT mineralization.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Bonneterre Dolomite; Cambrian; Carbonate Platform; Cementation; Ore Deposit; Porosity Evolution; USA, Missouri

Geographic Coverage

Southeastern Missouri

Time Period


International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 1993 Wiley-Blackwell, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 1993