Paleohydrological modeling of penesaline reflux dolomitization: Avon Park Formation (Middle Eocene), East Central Florida

  • Robert G. Maliva
  • Thomas M. Missimer
  • Weixing Guo
Original Article


Previous geochemical, petrological, and sedimentological investigations of the Middle Eocene Avon Park Formation (Middle Eocene) of Florida suggest that dolomitization occurred in the Eocene from normal to hypersaline seawater. Reflux of penesaline water (i.e., seawater evaporatively concentrated below evaporite mineral precipitation) is the most likely mechanism to supply the required magnesium. Density-dependent solute-transport modeling was performed to evaluate whether penesaline reflux under known or inferred Middle Eocene paleohydrological conditions could have provided enough magnesium to account for the mass of dolomite present in three cores of the upper part of the Avon Park Formation from the City of Daytona Beach. Rather than a simple down and out flow pattern, the modeling results indicate that an initial rapid vertical convection-dominated flow regime first occurs in which native groundwater is displaced by refluxed brine, and followed by a longer-duration regime dominated by steady-state lateral flow. Dolomitization from a brine with a 89.6 ppt TDS concentration would require an average minimum reflux (at 100% dolomitization efficiency) on the Florida Platform of about 8130 m3 per m2 to provide the required magnesium. Modeling results indicate that such reflux could occur over 0.7–3 million years, depending upon the aquifer hydraulic parameter values. Longer time periods would be required for the reflux of lower salinity brines and lower dolomitization efficiencies. Penesaline reflux is thus hydrologically plausible for the dolomites of the upper Avon Park Formation.


Dolomitization Reflux Penesaline Hydrology Modeling Diagenesis Avon Park Formation 



This manuscript benefited from the thoughtful reviews of two anonymous reviewers.


  1. Adams JE, Rhodes KL (1960) Dolomitization by seepage refluxion. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 44:1912–1920Google Scholar
  2. Applin PL, Applin ER (1944) Regional subsurface stratigraphy and structure of Florida and southern Georgia. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 28:1673–1753Google Scholar
  3. Applin ER, Jordan L (1945) Diagnostic foraminifera from subsurface formations in Florida. J Paleontol 19:129–148Google Scholar
  4. Bennett RH, Li H, Lambert DN, Fischer KM, Walter DJ, Hickox CE, Hulbert MH, Yamamoto T, Badiey M (1990) In situ porosity and permeability of selected carbonate sediment: Great Bahama Bank part 1: measurements. Mar Geotechnol 9:1–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Budd DA (1997) Cenozoic dolomites of carbonate islands: their attributes and origin. Earth Sci Rev 42:1–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Budd DA (2001) Permeability loss with depth in the cenozoic carbonate platform of west-central Florida. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 85:1253–1272Google Scholar
  7. Cander HS (1991) Dolomitization and water-rock interaction in the Middle Eocene Avon Park Formation, Floridan Aquifer. Dissertation, University of Texas, AustinGoogle Scholar
  8. Cander HS (1994) An example of mixing-zone dolomite, middle Eocene Avon Park Formation, Floridan aquifer system. J Sediment Res 64:615–629Google Scholar
  9. Chen CD (1965) The regional lithostratigraphic analysis of Paleocene and Eocene rocks of Florida, Bulletin 45. Florida Geol Surv, TallahasseeGoogle Scholar
  10. Cohen KM, Finney SC, Gibbard PL, Fan J-X (2013) The ICS international chronostratigraphic chart. Episodes 36:199–204Google Scholar
  11. Dawans JM, Swart PK (1988) Textural and geochemical alterations in late Cenozoic Bahamian dolomites. Sedimentology 35:385–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dunham RJ (1962) Classification of carbonate rocks according to depositional texture. In: Ham WE (ed) Classification of carbonate rocks. Memoir 1. Am Assoc Pet Geol, Tulsa, pp 108–121Google Scholar
  13. Enos P, Sawatsky LH (1981) Pore networks in Holocene carbonate sediments. J Sediment Pet 51:961–985Google Scholar
  14. Fanning KA, Byrne RH, Breland JA, Betzer PR, Moore WS, Elsinger RJ, Pyle TE (1981) Geothermal springs of the West Florida continental shelf: evidence for dolomitization and radionuclide enrichment. Earth Planet Sci Lett 52:345–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Guo W, Langevin CD (2002) User’s guide to SEAWAT: a computer program for simulation of three-dimensional variable-density ground-water flow, Open-file report 01-434. Reston, US Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  16. Halley RB, Schmoker JW (1983) High-porosity Cenozoic carbonate rocks of south Florida: progressive loss of porosity with depth. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 67:191–200Google Scholar
  17. Hardie LA (1987) Dolomitization: A critical view of some current views. J Sediment Pet 57:166–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Henry H, Kohout FA (1972) Circulation patterns of saline groundwater affected by geothermal heating as related to waste disposal. In: Cook TD (ed) Underground waste management and environmental implications, Memoir 18. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, pp 202–221Google Scholar
  19. Hsü KJ (1966) Origin of dolomite in sedimentary sequences: a critical analysis. Miner Depos 1(2):133–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hsü KJ (1967) Chemistry of dolomite formation. In: Chilingar GV, Bissell HJ, Fairbridge RW (eds) Carbonate rocks, physical and chemical aspects. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 169–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hughes JD, Vacher HL, Sanford WE (2007) Three-dimensional flow in the Florida platform: theoretical analysis of Kohout convection at its type locality. Geology 35:663–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones GD, Xiao Y (2005) Dolomitization, anhydrite cementation, and porosity evolution in a reflux system: insights from reactive transport models. Am Assoc Pet Geol Bull 89:577–601Google Scholar
  23. Jones GD, Whitaker FF, Smart PL, Sanford WE (2002) Fate of reflux brines in carbonate platforms. Geology 30:371–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kaufman J (1994) Numerical models of fluid flow in carbonate platforms: implications for dolomitization. J Sediment Res 64(1a):128–139Google Scholar
  25. Kohout FA (1965) A hypothesis concerning cyclic flow of salt water related to geothermal heating in the Floridan aquifer. Trans NY Acad Sci 28:249–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kohout FA, Henry HR, Banks JE (1977) Hydrogeology related to geothermal conditions of the Floridan Plateau. In: Smith KL, Griffin GM (eds) The geothermal nature of the Floridan Plateau, Special Publication 21. Florida Geological Survey, Tallahassee, pp 1–41Google Scholar
  27. Land LS (1985) The origin of massive dolomite. J Geol Educ 33(2):112–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Langevin CD, Thorne DT Jr, Dausman AM, Sukop MC, Guo W (2008) SEAWAT version 4: a computer program for simulation of multi-species solute and heat transport, techniques and methods book 6. US Geological Survey, RestonGoogle Scholar
  29. Machel HG (2004) Concepts and models of dolomitization: a critical reappraisal. In: Braithwaite CJR, Rizzi G, Darke G (eds) The geometry and petrogeneses of hydrocarbon reservoirs, Special Publication 235. Geological Society, London, pp 7–63Google Scholar
  30. Maliva RG, Walker CW (1998) Hydrogeology of deep-well disposal of liquid wastes in southwestern Florida, USA. Hydrogeol J 6:538–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Maliva RG, Budd DA, Clayton EA, Missimer TM, Dickson JAD (2011) Insights into the dolomitization process and porosity modification in sucrosic dolostones, Avon Park Formation (Middle Eocene), East-Central Florida, USA. J Sediment Res 81(3):218–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCaffrey MA, Lazar B, Holland HD (1987) The evaporation path of seawater and the coprecipitation of Br and K+ with halite. J Sediment Pet 57:928–937Google Scholar
  33. McDonald MG, Harbaugh AW (1988) A modular three-dimensional finite-difference ground water flow model, Techniques of water-resources investigation report 06-A1. Reston, US Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  34. Melim LA, Scholle PA (2002) Dolomitization of the capitan formation forereef facies (Permian, west Texas and New Mexico): seepage reflux revisited. Sedimentology 49:1207–1227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Miller JA (1986) Hydrogeologic framework of the Floridan aquifer system in Florida and in parts of Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama, Professional paper 1403-B. Reston, US Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  36. Miller JA (1990) Ground water atlas of the United States. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, Hydrologic investigations atlas HA 730-G. US Geological Survey, RestonGoogle Scholar
  37. Missimer TM, Maliva RG (2004) Tectonically induced fracturing, folding, and groundwater flow in South Florida. Trans Gulf Coast Assoc Geol Soc 54:443–459Google Scholar
  38. Mitchell-Tapping HJ, Bellucci JR, Woody G, Lee TJ (1999) Mud hole: a unique warm-water submarine spring, located offshore southwestern Florida. Trans Gulf Coast Assoc Geol Soc 49:370–383Google Scholar
  39. Morrow DW (1982) Diagenesis 2. Dolomite—part 2. Dolomitization models and ancient dolostones. Geosci Can 9(2):95–107Google Scholar
  40. Pal M, Taberner C (2011) Simulation of brine reflux and geothermal circulation in large carbonate platforms: an attempt to predict dolomite geo-bodies. In: Proceedings 2011 COMSOL Conference, Stuttgart, October 26–28Google Scholar
  41. Pitzer KS (1991) Ionic interaction approach: theory and data correlation. In: Pitzer KS (ed) Activity coefficients in electrolyte solutions. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 75–153Google Scholar
  42. Qing H, Bosence DW, Rose EP (2001) Dolomitization by penesaline sea water in Early Jurassic peritidal platform carbonates, Gibraltar, western Mediterranean. Sedimentology 48:153–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Randazzo AF (1997) The sedimentary platform of Florida: Mesozoic to Cenozoic. In: Randazzo AF, Jones DS (eds) The geology of Florida. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, pp 39–56Google Scholar
  44. Schijf J, Byrne RH (2007) Progressive dolomitization of Florida limestone recorded by alkaline earth element concentrations in saline, geothermal, submarine springs. J Geophys Res. Google Scholar
  45. Shields MJ, Brady PV (1995) Mass balance and fluid flow constraints on regional-scale dolomitization, Late Devonian, Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Bull Can Soc Pet Geol 43:371–392Google Scholar
  46. Shinn EA (1983) Tidal flat environment. In: Scholle PA, Bebout DG, Moore CH (eds) Carbonate depositional environments, Memoir 22. American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, pp 171–210Google Scholar
  47. Simms M (1984) Dolomitization by ground water-flow systems in carbonate platforms. Trans Gulf Coast Assoc Geol Soc 34:411–420Google Scholar
  48. Sperber CM, Wilkinson BH, Peacor DR (1984) Rock composition, dolomite stoichiometry, and rock/water reactions in dolomitic carbonate rocks. J Geol 92:609–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stumm W, Morgan JJ (1996) Aquatic chemistry: chemical equilibria and rates in natural waters, 3rd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  50. Sun SQ (1994) A reappraisal of dolomite abundance and occurrence in the Phanerozoic. J Sediment Res 64:396–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Swart PK, Melim LA (2000) The origin of dolomites in tertiary sediments from the margin of Great Bahama Bank. J Sediment Res 70:738–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vahrenkamp VC, Swart PK (1994) Late Cenozoic dolomites of the Bahamas: metastable analogues for the genesis of ancient platform dolomites. In: Purser B, Tucker M, Zenger D (eds) Dolomites: a volume in honour of Dolomieu, Special publication 21. International Association Sedimentologists, pp. 133–153Google Scholar
  53. Ward WC, Cunningham KJ, Renken RA, Wacker MA, Carlson JI (2003) Sequence-stratigraphic analysis of the Regional Observation Monitoring Program (ROMP) 29A test corehole and its relation to carbonate porosity and regional transmissivity in the Floridan aquifer system, Highlands County, Florida, Open-file report 03-201. US Geological Survey, RestonGoogle Scholar
  54. Warren J (2000) Dolomite: occurrence, evolution and economically important associations. Earth Sci Rev 52:1–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Whitaker FF, Smart PL (1990) Active circulation of saline ground waters in carbonate platforms: evidence from the Great Bahama Bank. Geology 18:200–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Whitaker FF, Smart P L, Vahrenkamp VC, Nicholson H, Wogelius RA (1994) Dolomitization by near-normal seawater? Field evidence from the Bahamas. In: Purser B, Tucker M, Zenger D (eds) Dolomites: A volume in honour of Dolomieu, Special publication 21. International Association Sedimentologists, p 111–132Google Scholar
  57. Whitaker FF, Smart PL, Jones GD (2004) Dolomitization: from conceptual to numerical models. In: Braithwaite CJR, Rizzi G, Darke G (eds) The geometry and petrogenesis of hydrocarbon reservoir, Special Publication 235. Geological Society, London, pp 99–139Google Scholar
  58. Wilson AM, Sanford W, Whitaker F, Smart PL (2001) Spatial patterns of diagenesis during geothermal circulation in carbonate platforms. Am J Sci 301:727–752CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wyrick GG (1960) The ground-water resources of Volusia County, Florida, Report of investigations 22. Florida Geological Survey, TallahasseeGoogle Scholar
  60. Zheng C, Wang PP (1999) MT3DMS: a modular three-dimensional multi-species model for simulation of advection, dispersion and chemical reactions of contaminants in ground water systems: documentation and user’s guide. Report SERDP-99-1. US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, VicksburgGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WSP USA Inc.Fort MyersUSA
  2. 2.U. A. Whitaker College of Engineering, Florida Gulf Coast UniversityFort MyersUSA
  3. 3.Groundwater Tek Inc.NaplesUSA

Personalised recommendations