Diagenesis of silica-rich mound-bedded chalk, the Coniacian Arnager Limestone, Denmark

H.B. Madsen, L. Stemmerik, F. Surlyk

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The Coniacian Arnager Limestone Formation is exposed on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. It is composed of mound-bedded siliceous chalk, and X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy indicate a content of 30-70% insoluble minerals, including authigenic opal-CT, quartz, clinoptilolite, feldspars, calcite, dolomite, and barite. Opal-CT and clinoptilolite are the most common and constitute 16-53% and 2-9%, respectively. The content of insoluble minerals varies laterally both within the mounds and in planar beds, and the opal-CT content varies by up to 10% vertically. The mounds consist of two microfacies, spiculitic wackestone and bioturbated spiculitic wackestone, containing 10-22% and 7-12% moulds after spicules, respectively. Subsequent to deposition and shallow burial, dissolution of siliceous sponge spicules increased the silica activity of the pore water and initiated precipitation of opal-CT. The opal-CT formed at temperatures around 17°C, the precipitation lowered the silica activity and the Si/Al ratio of the pore water, resulting in precipitation of clinoptilolite, feldspar and smectite. Calcite formed synchronously with the latest clinoptilolite. Minor amounts of quartz precipitated in pore water with low silica activity during maximum burial, probably to depths of 200-250m. The dissolution of sponge spicules and decomposition of the sponge tissue also resulted in the release of Ba2+, Sr2+, Mg2+, Ca2+ and CO32-, facilitating precipitation of barite and dolomite. Precipitation of especially opal-CT reduced the porosity to an average of 40% and cemented the limestone. The study highlights the diagenetic pathways of bio-siliceous chalk and the effects on preservation of porosity and permeability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalSedimentary Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Chalk
  • Clinoptilolite
  • Coniacian
  • Diagenesis
  • Opal-CT
  • Porosity

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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