Geochemical fingerprints of dolomitization in Bahamian carbonates: Evidence from sulphur, calcium, magnesium and clumped isotopes

Sean T. Murray, John A. Higgins, Chris Holmden, Chaojin Lu, Peter K. Swart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In an effort to constrain the mechanism of dolomitization in Neogene dolomites in the Bahamas and improve understanding of the use of chemostratigraphic tracers in shallow-water carbonate sediments the δ34S, Δ47, δ13C, δ18O, δ44/40Ca and δ26Mg values and Sr concentrations have been measured in dolomitized intervals from the Clino core, drilled on the margin of Great Bahama Bank and two other cores (Unda and San Salvador) in the Bahamas. The Unda and San Salvador cores have massively dolomitized intervals that have carbonate associated sulphate δ34S values similar to those found in contemporaneous seawater and δ44/40Ca, δ26Mg values, Sr contents and Δ47 temperatures (25 to 30°C) indicating relatively shallow dolomitization in a fluid-buffered system. In contrast, dolomitized intervals in the Clino core have elevated values of carbonate associated sulphate δ34S values indicating dolomitization in a more sediment-buffered diagenetic system where bacterial sulphate reduction enriches the residual (Formula presented.) in 34S, consistent with high sediment Sr concentrations and low δ44/40Ca and high δ26Mg values. Only dolomites associated with hardgrounds in the Clino core have carbonate associated δ34S values similar to seawater, indicating continuous flushing of the upper layers of the sediment by seawater during sedimentary hiatuses. This interpretation is supported by changes to more positive δ44/40Ca values at hardground surfaces. All dolomites, whether they formed in an open fluid-buffered or closed sediment-buffered diagenetic system have similar δ26Mg values suggesting that the HMC transformed to dolomite. The clumped isotope derived temperatures in the dolomitized intervals in Clino yield temperatures that are higher than normal, possibly indicating a kinetic isotope effect on dolomite Δ47 values associated with carbonate formation through bacterial sulphate reduction. The findings of this study highlight the utility of applying multiple geochemical proxies to disentangle the diagenetic history of shallow-water carbonate sediments and caution against simple interpretations of stratigraphic variability in these geochemical proxies as indicating changes in the global geochemical cycling of these elements in seawater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


  • Ca and Mg isotopes
  • clumped isotopes
  • diagenesis
  • dolomite
  • sulphur isotopes


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