Magnesium isotopic compositions of the Mesoproterozoic dolostones: Implications for Mg isotopic systematics of marine carbonates

Kang Jun Huang, Bing Shen, Xian Guo Lang, Wenbo Tang, Yang Peng, Shan Ke, Alan J. Kaufman, Hao Ran Ma, Fang Bing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Available Mg isotope data indicate that dolostones of different ages have overlapping range of Mg isotopic composition (δ26Mg) and there is no systematic difference among different types of dolomites. To further explore the Mg isotopic systematics of dolomite formation, we measured Mg isotopic compositions of Mesoproterozoic dolostones from the Wumishan Formation in North China Block, because dolomite formation in Mesoproterozoic might have been fundamentally different from the younger counterparts. Based on petrographic observations, three texturally-different dolomite phases (dolomicrite, subhedral dolomite and anhedral dolomite) are recognized in the Wumishan dolostones. Nevertheless, these three types of dolomites have similar δ26Mg values, ranging from -1.35‰ to -1.72‰, which are indistinguishable from Neoproterozoic and Phanerozoic dolostones. To explain δ26Mg values of dolostones, we simulate the Mg isotopic system during dolomite formation by applying the one-dimensional Diffusion-Advection-Reaction (1D-DAR) model, assuming that the contemporaneous seawater is the Mg source of dolostone. The 1D-DAR modeling results indicate that the degree of dolomitization is controlled by sedimentation rate, seawater Mg concentration, temperature, and reaction rate of dolomite formation, whereas Mg isotopic composition of dolostone is not only dependent on these factors, but also affected by δ26Mg of seawater and isotope fractionation during dolomite formation. Moreover, the 1D-DAR model predicts that dolomite formation within sediments has limited range of variation in δ26Mg with respect to limestones. Furthermore, the modeling results demonstrate that dolostone is always isotopically heavier than Ca-carbonate precipitated from seawater, explaining the systematic isotopic difference between dolostones and limestones. Finally, we can infer from the 1D-DAR model that early-formed dolostone at shallower depth of sediments is always isotopically lighter than that formed in deeper sediments, suggesting the potential application of Mg isotope as a proxy for constraining dolostone formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-351
Number of pages19
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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