Influence of climate and dolomite composition on dedolomitization: insights from a multi-proxy study in the central Oman Mountains

Dedolomitization is an important diagenetic process that can yield information on the history of paleo-fluids in a given aquifer or outcrop, and by extension it offers a window into past hydrologic conditions. Dedolomitization is also relevant economically as it can alter the porosity and permeability of carbonates, thus affecting reservoir quality. Despite considerable research, the process of dedolomitization is still not entirely understood. Here, new findings from the central Oman Mountains highlight the importance of dolomite chemistry and fluctuating climate on dedolomitization. Petrographic, mineralogical, and geochemical data from both altered and pristine dolomite hosted in Jurassic carbonate rocks from the Sahtan Group and outcropping at Wadi Mistal in the Jebel Akhdar tectonic window reveal two dolomite bodies with different characteristics, stratabound and fault-related dolostone. The (ferroan) dolomite crystals are larger in the fault-related dolostone, whereas the (non-ferroan) dolomite crystals are smaller in the stratabound dolostone. Petrography reveals a complex suite of alteration textures, including pristine dolomite, recrystallized dolomite, and calcitized dolomite (dedolomite). Iron oxides are present pervasively in the altered rocks, and different alteration textures co-occur in the same sample. Relative to unaltered dolomite in this outcrop, the recrystallized dolomite is characterized by similar positive carbon isotope values but less negative oxygen isotope values, and the calcitized dolomite is characterized by even less negative oxygen isotope values and more negative carbon isotope values. Based on field data and petrography, two phases of alteration are evident, an earlier dedolomitization event affecting the stratabound dolomite only, and a more pervasive Pleistocene–Holocene alteration phase associated with surface weathering that affected both the fault-related dolomite and to a lesser extent the stratabound dolomite. Stable isotope results further suggest that the more recent subaerial weathering phase happened under two alternating climate regimes: dedolomitization was triggered by meteoric fluids that interacted with soil-related carbon during humid climatic period(s), whereas recrystallization of ferroan fault-related dolomite happened during more arid climatic period(s) with less developed soils and lower fluid–rock interaction. These results suggest that weathering of ferroan fault-related dolomite can lead to formation of goethite and recrystallized, non-stoichiometric dolomite (with a reset stable oxygen isotope signature), and sometimes to dedolomitization.

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