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Geology > Death Valley > Walk Through Time

Noonday Dolomite

sample of noonday dolomite
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1,000 foot thick, 800 million years old. An erosion resistant dolomite deposited in quiet seas. The vertical tubes vented carbon dioxide from the rotting algae underneath.

Precambrian > Proterozoic eon > Neoproterozoic era > Cyrogenian period

Fossil Notes
Scolithus ? tubes.

Noonday Dolomite - Death Valley

The Noonday Dolomite is a geologically significant formation in Death Valley, California. This formation primarily consists of dolomite, a type of sedimentary carbonate rock that is similar to limestone but contains a higher percentage of the mineral dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate).

Geological Significance


The Noonday Dolomite dates back to the Late Precambrian, specifically the Ediacaran period, making it about 550 to 635 million years old. This time frame places it at the tail end of the Precambrian, just before the explosion of life in the Cambrian period.


The formation indicates a shallow marine environment where the original limestone was altered to dolomite, likely through magnesium-rich waters. This suggests that the region was once a part of an ancient seabed, which experienced significant chemical changes.

Glacial Evidence:

The Noonday Dolomite is noted for its association with evidence of ancient glaciation, including the presence of tillites and other glacial deposits that overlay it. These are crucial for understanding the Neoproterozoic ice ages, including the Marinoan glaciation.

Research and Relevance

The Noonday Dolomite is a key formation for studying the late Precambrian geological and climatic conditions. It provides valuable information on the sedimentation processes, paleoclimatology, and the chemical environment of ancient marine systems. Its study helps in reconstructing Earth's atmospheric and biospheric evolution just prior to the Cambrian explosion, which marked a significant increase in the complexity and diversity of life.

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