Dolomitisation of carbonate platform margins by fault‐controlled geothermal convection: Insights from coupling stratigraphic and reactive transport models

Miles Frazer, Cathy Hollis, Fiona Whitaker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Reactive transport modelling is increasingly deployed to quantitatively evaluate conceptual models of diagenetic processes. However, construction of models of complex systems involves trade-offs between accuracy and simplification. This tension is explored for models of fault-associated dolomitisation by sea water convection in a syn-rift carbonate platform, evaluating the contribution of incorporating stratigraphic growth and fault propagation. Simulations of the high heat flux southern margin of the Derbyshire Platform (Northern England), with heterogeneous matrix permeability that reflects the evolving stratal architecture and burial compaction focusses dolomitisation in more permeable units at all depths. A permeable platform margin fault zone enhances dolomitisation in a broad area on the upper slope and margin, and to a lesser but significant extent, across the interior as platform top waters are entrained and discharge via the fault. Stepwise simulation of flow and reactions during stratigraphic growth suggests that static models over-predict dolomite abundance in younger sediments and show how regions optimally supplied with reactants and heat to drive dolomite formation migrate vertically and laterally during platform growth. Dolomitisation intensity increases with depth due to greater time for reactions and kinetically favourable temperatures. Adding the fault zone to this model focusses and accelerates flow, giving a more spatially restricted dolostone body and reducing dolomitisation temperature. Changes in fault connectivity with the surface of the evolving platform shift fluid flow pathways and change the rate and temperature of dolomite formation. Results concur with petrographic, isotopic and geochemical observations of the early dolomite on the Derbyshire Platform. This work demonstrates the importance of understanding diagenesis as the product of an evolving set of processes that respond to geological and palaeoenvironmental changes rather than as a sequence of individual diagenetic events. This is particularly critical for reactions, such as dolomitisation by geothermal convection of sea water, which occur over timescales synchronous with platform development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-733
Number of pages20
JournalThe Depositional Record
Issue number3
Early online date2 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Al Fraser for assistance obtaining seismic data and Alessandro Mangione and Wenwen Wei for stimulating discussions. This work was supported by a National Environment Research Council CASE studentship (grant number NE/I528142/1) in association with Chevron Energy Technology Company (ETC). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not those of Chevron ETC. We thank Dr Bea Garcia‐Fresca, an anonymous reviewer, and Editor Prof. Peter Swart for comments that helped hone the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. The Depositional Record published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association of Sedimentologists.


Dive into the research topics of 'Dolomitisation of carbonate platform margins by fault‐controlled geothermal convection: Insights from coupling stratigraphic and reactive transport models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this