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Abstract

The Mississippian Leadville Dolomite in central Colorado hosts a large number of paleokarst and other solution features ranging in age from the Mississippian to the present. In many cases, these features provided pathways of high permeability for subsequent fluid movement. Four main episodes of dissolution have been identified.

In the early Osagean, prior to deposition of the Castle Butte Member, subaerial exposure and minor karstification of the Red Cliff Member of the Leadville Dolomite formed breccias at the surface and karst solution features in the shallow subsurface.

In the Late Mississippian, following the retreat of the sea from central Colorado, extensive karst features developed on and within the Leadville Dolomite.

Following burial of the Leadville Dolomite in the Pennsylvanian, hydrothermal solution features of various ages were created. Pennsylvanian age, migrating basinal brines and/or convecting hydrothermal fluids associated with igneous intrusive activity in the Laramide and/or mid-Tertiary may have caused the dissolution.

Finally, in the late Tertiary or early Quaternary, karstifieation was initiated as erosion exposed the Leadville Dolomite to meteoric water.

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