Abstract

Stromatolitic domes having apparent growth reliefs up to 100 m or more characterize the lower member of the Noonday Dolomite, late Proterozoic, Death Valley region, eastern California. Long to short, subparallel, initially subvertical tubes penetrate the bedding of these structures at angles that range from 90° where stratification was initially horizontal to downslope angles up to 110° (and acute upslope angles) as initial dips increase. Tubes generally are missing where initial dips exceed 20°. They are common in the larger buildups and most abundant in the upper and central parts of these. They may be open or filled with coarsely sparry secondary dolomite, medium-gray ultra microgranular dolomite, silty brown dolomite, or drusy quartz. They pinch and swell irregularly along their length from a mean diameter of 1.5 cm and are subcircular to irregular in horizontal cross section. Secondary crystalline growths similar to those in many tubes are common along lamination surfaces and as irregular vug fillings. Weathering along intersecting fracture sets locally produces a subvertical lineation in the same orientation as associated tubes. Possible origins considered for the tubes and found improbable are: (1) metazoan burrows, (2) interspaces of columnar stromatolites, (3) columnar stromatolites, (4) solution pipes, and (5) root casts. Instead the spaces now represented by filled vugs, sparry lamination surfaces, and tubes are interpreted as having, in general, a common origin caused by the upward movement of fluids through the stromatolite mounds.

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