Geochemistry of sedimentary carbonates


Environmental and Regional Studies (3rd level)

Paleobiology and sedimentary geology (3rd Cycle)

Course code: DIP07
Year of study: without

Course principals:
Assist. Prof. Špela Goričan, Ph. D.
Assoc. Prof. Aleksander Horvat, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 30 hours, seminar 10 hours, tutorial 20 hours, individual work 120 hours
Course type: modul elective
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, e-learning, seminars, practical training


Course syllabus (download)


Inscription to the 1st academic year.


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • Long-term carbon cycle.
  • Mineralogy, chemistry and reaction kinetics of major carbonate phases (calcite, dolomite, aragonite).
  • The CO2-carbonic acid system and solution chemistry.
  • Interactions between carbonate minerals and solutions.
  • Coprecipitation reactions and solid solutions of carbonate minerals.
  • Biologically formed and biologically induced carbonate precipitation.
  • The oceanic carbonate system and preservation of deep-sea carbonates.
  • Composition and source of shallow-water carbonate sediments
  • Early diagenesis.
  • Burial and metamorphism.
  • δ13C, δ18O, 87Sr/86Sr, trace elements and REE incorporation: paleoenvironmental vs. diagenetic proxies.
  • Short-term carbon cycle and human impact.



Selected chapters and papers:

  • Morse JW, Mackenzie FT (1990) Geochemistry of sedimentary carbonates. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  • Holland H, Turekian K, eds. (2014) Treatise on Geochemistry, izbrana poglavja iz 9: Sediments, Diagenesis and Sedimentary Rocks, in Vol. 7: Surface and Groundwater, Weathering and Soils.
  • Morse JW, Arvidson RS, Luttge A (2007) Calcium carbonate formation and dissolution. Chemical Reviews 107: 342-381.
  • Machel HG (2004) Concepts and models of dolomitization: a critical reappraisal. In: Braithwaite CJR, Rizzi G, Darke G (eds) The Geometry and Petrogenesis of Dolomite Hydrocarbon Reservoirs, Special Publication 235. Geological Society, London, 7-63.


Objectives and competences:

The purpose of the course is to deepen the knowledge on the occurrence of carbonate minerals and sediments in different environments. Students will learn and know how to use the basic physico-chemical limitations and conditions which affect formation of carbonate minerals and sediments. The students will gain an overview of geochemical proxy indicators currently in use for the reconstruction of past environmental and diagenetic conditions. This knowledge enables interpretation of paleoenvironment and diagenesis of recent and older carbonates and carbonate rocks.


Intended learning outcomes:

Knowledge and understanding:

The student knows the basic aspects of carbonate minerals, and their interaction with the aqueous solution. He/she differentiates between early carbonate precipitates in different surface environments from later diagenetic and metamorphic overprints. In order to interpret the paleoenvironment of carbonate rock formation and assess the diagenetic overprints, he/she is able to use a wide range of geochemical proxies. When interpreting the (paleo)environment and changes on the Earth’s surface he/she is able to define the role of the global carbon cycle.



Written or oral exam (60 %), presentation of a chosen topic (40 %).