Open Access

Microfacies and C/O-isotopes in lacustrine dolomites reflect variable environmental conditions in the Germanic Basin (Arnstadt Formation, Upper Triassic)


The conditions in ancient evaporative environments conducive to authigenic carbonate (especially dolomite [CaMg(CO3)2]) formation are still insufficiently understood. Insights from microfacies analysis can help to constrain the conditions in these environments. We provide a brief overview of the microfacies association and carbon and oxygen isotope compositions of dolomite beds intercalated in a claystone-rich succession from the Norian Arnstadt Formation in Thuringia and Lower Saxony (Germany) in order to gain further insight into the depositional conditions and processes leading to the formation of authigenic Mg/Ca-carbonates in the Germanic Basin. The studied intervals are ascribed to lacustrine, partially evaporitic conditions, while the sedimentary structures were not obliterated by recrystallization. The microfacies of the dolomites is diverse, showing homogeneous micrite, mudclasts, lamination, and peloidal structures, and reflects a shallow to deeper water (below wave base) and episodically evaporative environment. The dolomites exhibit oxygen isotope values (δ18O) in the range from −5.21 to −0.36‰ VPDB and, hence, only represent a weak meteoric influence, suggesting that the authigenic carbonate generally formed under evaporative conditions. Carbon isotope values (δ13C) in the range of −4.28 to 1.39‰ VPDB indicate a small contribution of remineralized organic carbon, mainly in sediments that were presumably deposited in deeper water or under brackish conditions. Sedimentary structures, such as lamination with graded silt layers, reworked mudclasts embedded in a fine dolomicrite matrix, and peloids showing plastic deformation, indicate that the sediment was still unlithified. These observations would be consistent with an authigenic formation of Mg/Ca-carbonates directly from the lake water, and their deposition under variable conditions in a large playa-lake/perennial lake system.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Geosciences, Geophysics, Geology and Mineralogy, other