Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine Geology and Geophysics (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Gregor P. Eberli

Second Committee Member

Peter K. Swart

Third Committee Member

Eugene C. Rankey

Fourth Committee Member

Langhorne (Taury) B. Smith


Integrated sequence stratigraphy and geochemistry has significantly improved our knowledge of the formation and distribution of early and late diagenetic products in North American Mississippian carbonates. Deposition of the Madison Limestone occurred in concert with a major perturbation to the global C-pool, the timing of which was constrained by comparing secular variations in the delta13C values from the Madison Limestone with limited biostratigraphy. These early constraints were then improved by peak matching of 87Sr/86Sr values from this study with European brachiopod 87Sr/86Sr. The secular variations in the delta13C values were then applied as a chronostratigraphic tool to outcrops and subsurface core. As a result, our sequence stratigraphic interpretations and knowledge regarding lateral facies variability in carbonate rocks is significantly improved. Geographic variability in the magnitude of the delta13C values is also documented along the dip-transects which suggests that marine waters experienced increasing restriction in a landward direction. These results show how local changes to the C-pool are controlled by the morphology of the depositional system which can significantly affect the original signal of the global carbon pool. The geographic variability in the delta13C and delta18O values from reservoir quality dolomites along the mid-to-upper Madison ramp suggest they also precipitated from a restricted water mass with increased salinity, temperature and alkalinity which in turn, were responsible for the distribution of massive quantities of strataform dolomite deposited during the continental transgression at the beginning of the Mississippian. Trace element and 87Sr/86Sr values from strataform dolomite suggest initial formation from Mississippian seawater and slight resetting during shallow burial diagenesis. Petrography indicates that the formation of this dolomite ceased in the shallow burial environment, between the Mississippian and Permian. These dolomites are cross-cut by comparatively small volumes of geothermal-hydrothermal dolomite associated with Laramide-age breccias and fractures. Tectonic-hydrothermal activity associated with the Laramide Orogeny was responsible for late stage calcite cemented fractures and breccias which cross-cut all carbonate rocks discussed in this thesis. Radiogenic 87Sr/86Sr, depleted delta18O and enriched delta13C values and the hottest fluid inclusions measured in this study suggest the late stage calcite formed in the hydrothermal environment and under the most open-system and water-dominated conditions. Tectonic-diagenesis is ultimately responsible for establishing vertical barriers in the otherwise porous and permeable strataform dolomites.


Carboniferous; Marine Carbonates; Geochemistry; Sequence Stratigraphy; Radiogenic Sr Isotopes; Stable C And O Isotopes