Abstract

Dolomite is present 1,250–1,400 m below sea level in Eocene strata of Enewetak Atoll. Petrographically, the deep Enewetak dolomite postdates brittle compaction of rigid grains in the host Eocene strata. The 87Sr/86Sr ratio of these dolomites (0.70865–0.70901) indicates that they formed at one or more times between the middle Miocene and the present. Since the top of the lower Miocene is more than 900 m above the deep dolomitic interval, the dolomite must have formed at a minimum burial depth of 900 m. Stable-oxygen-isotope determinations suggest dolomite precipitation from cold marine water. Lower Miocene and Eocene carbonate strata on the atoll are apparently in open communication with cold, modern ocean water, suggesting that those same strata were in open communication with ocean water during dolomitization. At a depth of about 1,000 m, modern Pacific Ocean water becomes undersaturated with respect to calcite but is still supersaturated with respect to dolomite. Therefore, it is proposed that the deep Enewetak dolomite precipitated from cold, deep ocean water (undersaturated with respect to calcite) at a burial depth of more than 900 m.

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