Abstract

Caymanite is a laminated, multicoloured (white, red, black) dolostone that fills or partly fills cavities in the Bluff Formation of the Cayman Islands. The first phase of caymanite formation occurred after deposition, lithification, and karsting of the Oligocene Cayman Member. The second phase of caymanite formation occurred after joints had developed in the Middle Miocene Pedro Castle Member. Caymanite deposition predated dolomitization of the Bluff Formation 2–5 Ma ago.Caymanite is formed of mudstones, wackestone, packstones, and grainstones. Allochems include foraminifera, red algae, gastropods, bivalves, and grains of microcrystalline dolostone. Sedimentary structures include planar laminations, graded bedding, mound-shaped laminations, desiccation cracks, and geopetal fabrics. Original depositional dips ranged from 0 to 60°. Although caymanite originated as a limestone, dolomitization did not destroy the original sedimentary fabrics or structures.The sediments that formed caymanite were derived from shallow offshore lagoons, swamps, and possibly brackish-water ponds. Pigmentation of the red and black laminae can be related to precipitates formed of Mn, Fe, Al, Ni, Ti, P, K, Si, and Ca, which occur in the intercrystalline pores. These elements may have been derived from terra rossa, which occurs on the weathered surface of the Bluff Formation. Caymanite colours were inherited from the original limestone. Stratigraphic and sedimentologic evidence shows that sedimentation was episodic and that the sediment source changed with time. Available evidence suggests that caymanite originated from sediments transported by storms onto a highly permeable karst terrain. The water with its sediment load then drained into the subsurface through joints and fissures. The depth to which these waters penetrated was controlled by the length of the interconnected cavity system. Upon entering cavities, sedimentation was controlled by a complex set of variables.

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