ABSTRACT

This study investigates the origin of dolomite by examining thick lacustrine sequences of evaporites, mudstones, and deep-water sublacustrine fan sandstones in the lower unit of the fourth member of the Eocene Shahejie Formation (Es4x) in Bohai Bay Basin, China. This petrographic, geochemical, and numerical modeling study recognizes evidence for microbially mediated dolomite precipitates in the Es4x sandstones, including the following: (1) spherical or elliptical dolomite aggregates consisting of submicrometer-sized crystals; (2) negative δ13CVPDB (VPDB refers to Vienna Peedee belemnite) values of the dolomite cements (–6.56‰ to –3.35‰); (3) relatively low precipitation temperatures of dolomite cements (39°C–65°C [102°F–149°F]) based on δ18OVPDB values from –8.76‰ to –4.65‰; and (4) negative 34SVCDT (VCDT refers to Vienna Canon Diablo troilite) values of associated framboidal pyrite (–3.9‰ to +5.7‰) with respect to an anhydrite precursor (+21.2‰ to +37.8‰). One-dimensional reactive transport modeling incorporating biodegradation kinetics was conducted to evaluate the link between biodegradation of organic matter and geochemical reactions of inorganic minerals during microbial sulfate reduction (MSR). Microbial metabolism in the model creates favorable geochemical conditions for dolomite precipitation by increasing pH, carbonate alkalinity, and Mg2+/Ca2+ ratio. The modeling results reproduce petrographic observations associated with the MSR process and indicate that the kinetics of microbial growth can significantly modify the geochemistry of simulated waters and enhance microbially mediated dolomite precipitation. Therefore, this study illustrates the effect of MSR in dolomite precipitation in a semiclosed and reducing continental lacustrine basin.

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