Massive dolomitization does not commonly occur in deep-water carbonates. However, this regional study on outcrops and subsurface samples of Triassic Lagonegro basinal carbonates from the southern Apennines fold and thrust belt (Italy) shows that the evolution of the Lagonegro basin was punctuated by two events of massive dolomitization. These processes resulted in two distinct dolomite types, displaying different petrographic and geochemical features. A medium-crystalline and fabric-preservative dolomite in the northern area (Molise, Campagna, and San Fele–Mount Pierno) contrasts with a medium- to coarse-crystalline and fabric-destructive dolomite in the southern area (from Pignola to the high Val d'Agri).
Geochemical data (increase in δ18O with respect to typical Late Triassic seawater values, high Sr and low Mn and Fe content, Sr isotopes consistent with Late Triassic seawater) indicate that the dolomite in the northern area is the result of an early replacement caused by a marine and possibly oxidizing fluid during shallow burial. Dolomitizing fluids likely were expelled through reflux from the Norian Apenninic carbonate platform towards the proximal Lagonegro basin. This reflux was promoted by the Norian peculiar paleoceanographic and climatic conditions in the Tethyan region, and affected only the proximal basinal facies.
Dolomites in the southern area display a decrease in δ18O compared to Late Triassic seawater values and show lower Sr, higher Mn and Fe contents, and higher Sr isotope ratios compared to the early dolomites of the northern area. Fluid-inclusion microthermometry reveals homogenization temperatures between 70 and 120°C and salinities of 1.9 to 6.4 wt % NaCl eq. for saddle dolomites. These geochemical signatures indicate that the southern area was affected by late diagenetic burial dolomitization, interpreted to be the result of large scale tectonically driven fluid flow during the second compressional phase characterizing the southern Apennines fold and thrust belt emplacement.
The dolomite distribution across the Lagonegro basin (northern and southern) is possibly controlled by the paleogeographic distribution of the facies (proximal vs. distal) as well as by their proximity to thrust faults. The Lagonegro case study demonstrates that basinal successions may undergo multiple dolomitization episodes in a manner similar to carbonate platform successions, from early shallow to deep-burial diagenesis. One of the relevant implications is that in areas of restricted oceanographic circulation, during periods of aridity, reflux dolomitization may extend beyond the platform margin, into deep-water carbonates, having the potential to alter their reservoir quality.