Calibration of the oxygen and clumped isotope thermometers for (proto-)dolomite based on synthetic and natural carbonates

Müller, Inigo A.; Rodriguez-Blanco, Juan D.; Storck, Julian-Christopher; do Nascimento, Gabriela Santilli; Bontognali, Tomaso R.R.; Vasconcelos, Crisogono; Benning, Liane G.; Bernasconi, Stefano M. (2019). Calibration of the oxygen and clumped isotope thermometers for (proto-)dolomite based on synthetic and natural carbonates. Chemical geology, 525, pp. 1-17. Elsevier 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2019.07.014

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Dolomite is a very common carbonate mineral in ancient sediments, but is rarely found in modern environments. Because of the difficulties in precipitating dolomite in the laboratory at low temperatures, the controls on its formation are still debated after more than two centuries of research. Two important parameters to constrain the environment of dolomitization are the temperature of formation and the oxygen isotope composition of the fluid from which it precipitated. Carbonate clumped isotopes (expressed with the parameter Δ47) are increasingly becoming the method of choice to obtain this information. However, whereas many clumped isotope studies treated dolomites the same way as calcite, some recent studies observed a different phosphoric acid fractionation for Δ47 during acid digestion of dolomite compared to calcite. This causes additional uncertainties in the Δ47 temperature estimates for dolomites analyzed in different laboratories using different acid digestion temperatures.

To tackle this problem we present here a (proto-)dolomite-specific Δ47-temperature calibration from 25 to 1100 °C for an acid reaction temperature of 70 °C and anchored to widely available calcite standards. For the temperature range 25 to 220 °C we obtain a linear Δ47-T relationship based on 289 individual measurements with R2 of 0.864:

When including two isotopically scrambled dolomites at 1100 °C, the best fit is obtained with a third order polynomial temperature relationship (R2 = 0.924):

Applying a calcite Δ47-T relationship produced under identical laboratory conditions results in 3 to 16 °C colder calculated formation temperatures for dolomites (with formation temperature from 0 to 100 °C) than using the (proto-)dolomite specific calibration presented here.

For the synthetic samples formed between 70 and 220 °C we also determined the temperature dependence of the oxygen isotope fractionation relative to the water. Based on the similarity between our results and two other recent studies (Vasconcelos et al., 2005 and Horita, 2014) we propose that a combination of the three datasets represents the most robust calibration for (proto-)dolomite formed in a wide temperature range from 25 to 350 °C.

Because of the uncertainties in the phosphoric acid oxygen and clumped isotope fractionation for (proto-)dolomite, we promote the use of three samples that are available in large amounts as possible inter-laboratory reference material for oxygen and clumped isotope measurements. A sample of the middle Triassic San Salvatore dolomite from southern Switzerland, the NIST SRM 88b dolomite standard already reported in other Δ47 studies and a lacustrine Pliocene dolomite from La Roda (Spain).

This study demonstrates the necessity to apply (proto-)dolomite specific Δ47-T relationships for accurate temperature estimates of dolomite formation, ideally done at identical acid digestion temperatures to avoid additional uncertainties introduced by acid digestion temperature corrections. In addition, the simultaneous analyses of dolomite reference material will enable a much better comparison of published dolomite clumped and oxygen isotope data amongst different laboratories.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Storck, Julian-Christopher


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
500 Science > 560 Fossils & prehistoric life
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology








Julian-Christopher Storck

Date Deposited:

19 Nov 2019 14:38

Last Modified:

19 Nov 2019 14:48

Publisher DOI:





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