Dolomite is a common and volumetrically important mineral in many siliciclastic sandstones, including Permian Rotliegend sandstones (the Slochteren Formation). These sandstones form extensive gas reservoirs in the Southern Permian Basin in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and the UK. The reservoir quality of these sandstones is negatively influenced by the content and distribution of dolomite. The origin and the stratigraphic distribution of the dolomite is not yet fully understood. The aim of this study is to identify the origin of carbonate. The main methods used to achieve those aims are a combination of thin-section petrography, scanning electron microscopy (SEM and EDX), and XRD analyses.

The present study shows that the typical dispersed occurrence of the dolomite is a consequence of dispersed detrital carbonate grains that served both as nuclei and source for authigenic dolomite cement. The dolomite cement formed syntaxial outgrowths and overgrowths around detrital carbonate grains. The study also shows that dolomite cement, often in combination with ankerite and siderite, precipitated during burial after mechanical compaction. Most of the carbonate grains consisted of dolomite before deposition. The carbonate grains were affected by compaction and pressure dissolution, and commonly have no well-defined outlines anymore.

The distribution of dolomite cement in the Rotliegend sandstones was controlled by the presence of stable carbonate grains. Due to the restricted and variable content of carbonate grains and their dispersed occurrence, the cement is also dispersed and the degree of cementation heterogeneous.

Our findings have important implications on diagenesis modeling. The presence of detrital carbonate excludes the need for external supply by any large-scale advective flow of diagenetic fluids. By knowing that the carbonate source is local and related to detrital grains instead of being externally derived from an unknown source, the presence of carbonate cement can be linked to a paleogeographic and sedimentological model.

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