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Indexed under : Earth Sciences

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

The 'Dolomite Problem'

Dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2) is a ubiquitous carbonate mineral. Geologists have been debating exactly how it formed for more than two centuries. Because it's a sedimentary rock, it's clear that it was deposited in vast amounts on prehistoric seabeds.

The 'dolomitization' reaction has been resolved as :

2CaCO3 + Mg2+ → CaMg(CO3)2 + Ca2+

But can only take place in a very limited way in modern-day seawater - so the vast deposits of dolomite cannot currently be explained. The so-called 'dolomite problem'.

It's proposed by some research groups that ancient seawater composition was very significantly different to today's. Or, that some biological process was involved (sulfate-reducing bacteria living in oxygen-free conditions may have precipitated dolomite).

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