Abstract

The extraordinary abundance of dolomite in the Proterozoic challenges our understanding of Precambrian marine environments. Here we show that synsedimentary marine dolomite precipitation was pervasive within Cryogenian reef complexes from the Adelaide Fold Belt, South Australia. Although these reefs are composed of dolomite, textural evidence indicates an originally aragonitic mineralogy for depositional components, in common with many other Neoproterozoic carbonates. Allochthonous slope debris from the reefs invariably contains both limestone and dolomite clasts, indicating synsedimentary dolomitization in the reefs. We describe several new forms of fibrous marine dolomite cement from the reefs that have a length-slow optical character. These fascicular slow, radial slow, and rhombic dolomite cements have finely preserved cathodoluminescent growth zones, and optical characteristics that indicate they originally precipitated as dolomite, rather than replacing calcite or aragonite cements. Abundant early marine dolomite precipitation implies a radically different seawater chemistry for the Cryogenian. Perhaps these aragonite-dolomite seas are associated with extreme Neoproterozoic glacial events and/or ocean anoxia.

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