Formation of the world's largest REE deposit through protracted fluxing of carbonatite by subduction-derived fluids
ABSTRACT: Rare Earth Elements (REE) are essential to modern society but the origins of many large REE deposits remain unclear. The U-Th-Pb ages, chemical compositions and C, O and Mg isotopic compositions of Bayan Obo, the world's largest REE deposit, indicate a protracted mineralisation history with unusual chemical and isotopic features. Coexisting calcite and dolomite are in O isotope disequilibrium; some calcitic carbonatite samples show highly varied ?26Mg which increases with increasing Si and Mg; and ankerite crystals show decreases in Fe and REE from rim to centre, with highly varied REE patterns. These and many other observations are consistent with an unusual mineralisation process not previously considered; protracted fluxing of calcitic carbonatite by subduction-released high-Si fluids during the closure of the Palaeo-Asian Ocean. The fluids leached Fe and Mg from the mantle wedge and scavenged REE, Nb and Th from carbonatite, forming the deposit through metasomatism of overlying sedimentary carbonate.
Project description:Carbonatites host some of the largest and highest grade rare earth element (REE) deposits but the composition and source of their REE-mineralising fluids remains enigmatic. Using C, O and 87Sr/86Sr isotope data together with major and trace element compositions for the REE-rich Kangankunde carbonatite (Malawi), we show that the commonly observed, dark brown, Fe-rich carbonatite that hosts REE minerals in many carbonatites is decoupled from the REE mineral assemblage. REE-rich ferroan dolomite carbonatites, containing 8-15 wt% REE2O3, comprise assemblages of monazite-(Ce), strontianite and baryte forming hexagonal pseudomorphs after probable burbankite. The 87Sr/86Sr values (0.70302-0.70307) affirm a carbonatitic origin for these pseudomorph-forming fluids. Carbon and oxygen isotope ratios of strontianite, representing the REE mineral assemblage, indicate equilibrium between these assemblages and a carbonatite-derived, deuteric fluid between 250 and 400 °C (?18O + 3 to + 5‰VSMOW and ?13C - 3.5 to - 3.2‰VPDB). In contrast, dolomite in the same samples has similar ?13C values but much higher ?18O, corresponding to increasing degrees of exchange with low-temperature fluids (< 125 °C), causing exsolution of Fe oxides resulting in the dark colour of these rocks. REE-rich quartz rocks, which occur outside of the intrusion, have similar ?18O and 87Sr/86Sr to those of the main complex, indicating both are carbonatite-derived and, locally, REE mineralisation can extend up to 1.5 km away from the intrusion. Early, REE-poor apatite-bearing dolomite carbonatite (beforsite: ?18O + 7.7 to + 10.3‰ and ?13C -5.2 to -6.0‰; 87Sr/86Sr 0.70296-0.70298) is not directly linked with the REE mineralisation.
Project description:Carbonatite-associated rare-earth-element (REE) deposits are the most significant source of the world's REEs; however, their genesis remains unclear. Here, we present new Sr-Nd-Pb and C-O isotopic data for Cenozoic carbonatite-hosted giant REE deposits in southwest China. These REE deposits are located along the western margin of the Yangtze Craton that experienced Proterozoic lithospheric accretion, and controlled by Cenozoic strike-slip faults related to Indo-Asian continental collision. The Cenozoic carbonatites were emplaced as stocks or dykes with associated syenites, and tend to be extremely enriched in Ba, Sr, and REEs and have high (87)Sr/(86)Sr ratios (>0.7055). These carbonatites were likely formed by melting of the sub-continental lithospheric mantle (SCLM), which had been previously metasomatized by high-flux REE- and CO2-rich fluids derived from subducted marine sediments. The fertility of these carbonatites depends on the release of REEs from recycled marine sediments and on the intensity of metasomatic REE refertilization of the SCLM. We suggest that cratonic edges, particularly along ancient convergent margins, possess the optimal configuration for generating giant REE deposits; therefore, areas of metamorphic basement bounded or cut by translithospheric faults along cratonic edges have a high potential for such deposits.
Project description:Carbonatites, usually occurring within intra-continental rift-related settings, have strong light rare earth element (LREE) enrichment; they rarely contain economic heavy REE (HREE). Here, we report the identification of Late Triassic HREE-Mo-rich carbonatites in the northernmost Qinling orogen. The rocks contain abundant primary HREE minerals and molybdenite. Calcite-hosted fluid inclusions, inferred to represent a magmatic-derived aqueous fluid phase, contain significant concentrations of Mo (~17?ppm), reinforcing the inference that these carbonatitic magmas had high Mo concentrations. By contrast, Late Triassic carbonatites in southernmost Qinling have economic LREE concentrations, but are depleted in HREE and Mo. Both of these carbonatite types have low ?<sup>26</sup>Mg values (-1.89 to -1.07‰), similar to sedimentary carbonates, suggesting a recycled sediment contribution for REE enrichment in their mantle sources. We propose that the carbonatites in the Qinling orogen were formed, at least in part, by the melting of a subducted carbonate-bearing slab, and that 10?Ma younger carbonatite magmas in the northernmost Qinling metasomatized the thickened eclogitic lower crust to produce high levels of HREE and Mo.
Project description:We have developed an approach for automatic 3D geological mapping based on conversion of chemical composition of rocks to mineral composition by logical computation. It allows to calculate mineral composition based on bulk rock chemistry, interpolate the mineral composition in the same way as chemical composition, and, finally, build a 3D geological model. The approach was developed for the Kovdor phoscorite-carbonatite complex containing the Kovdor baddeleyite-apatite-magnetite deposit. We used 4 bulk rock chemistry analyses - Fe<sub>magn</sub>, P<sub>2</sub>O<sub>5</sub>, CO<sub>2</sub> and SiO<sub>2</sub>. We used four techniques for prediction of rock types - calculation of normative mineral compositions (norms), multiple regression, artificial neural network and developed by logical evaluation. The two latter became the best. As a result, we distinguished 14 types of phoscorites (forsterite-apatite-magnetite-carbonate rock), carbonatite and host rocks. The results show good convergence with our petrographical studies of the deposit, and recent manually built maps. The proposed approach can be used as a tool of a deposit genesis reconstruction and preliminary geometallurgical modelling.
Project description:Lithium isotopic compositions of fluid inclusions and hosted gangue quartz from a giant volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit in China provide robust evidence for inputting of magmatic fluids into a Triassic submarine hydrothermal system. The δ(7)Li results vary from +4.5‰ to +13.8‰ for fluid inclusions and from +6.7‰ to +21.0‰ for the hosted gangue quartz(9 gangue quartz samples containing primary fluid inclusions). These data confirm the temperature-dependent Li isotopic fractionation between hydrothermal quartz and fluid (i.e., Δδ(7)Liquartz-fluid = -8.9382 × (1000/T) + 22.22(R(2) = 0.98; 175 °C-340 °C)), which suggests that the fluid inclusions are in equilibrium with their hosted quartz, thus allowing to determine the composition of the fluids by using δ(7)Liquartz data. Accordingly, we estimate that the ore-forming fluids have a δ(7)Li range from -0.7‰ to +18.4‰ at temperatures of 175-340 °C. This δ(7)Li range, together with Li-O modeling , suggest that magmatic fluid played a significant role in the ore formation. This study demonstrates that Li isotope can be effectively used to trace magmatic fluids in a seafloor hydrothermal system and has the potential to monitor fluid mixing and ore-forming process.
Project description:The Huajian gold deposit is one of the largest hydrothermal intrusion-related gold deposits in eastern Hebei Province, located in the northern margin of the North China Craton (NCC). The mineralization in this district displays a close spatial association with the shoshonitic Niuxinshan intrusive complex (NIC), which contributes to the characterization of the metallogeny associated with convergent margin magmatism. In the current study, new geochronological and geochemical data are combined with previously published isotopic data, obtained from the granitic rocks in the NIC, to constrain the timing of the district's tectonic setting transformation and determine its bearing on regional metallogeny. The new geochronological data constrain the timing of the tectonic transformation between 155 and 185 Ma. The NIC's granitic rocks can be geochemically subdivided into two groups. One group's geochemical signature exhibits steep rare earth element (REE) patterns with negligible Eu anomalies, lower Yb, higher Sr, and negative Nb-Ta-Ti (NTT) anomalies, which indicate a volcanic-arc environment with a thickened crust in a convergent setting. The other group exhibits flat REE patterns with obvious negative Eu anomalies, higher Yb, lower Sr, and weak NTT anomalies, which indicate an intra-plate extensional environment with a thinning crust. Combining geochronologic and isotopic data, the mineralization is Late Jurassic (~155 Ma). This is interpreted to be genetically related to the crystallization of the shallow crustal-sourced portions of this complex. Additionally, a tectonic model is presented that provides a plausible explanation for the abundant polymetallic mineralization that occurs in the northern margin of the NCC after 155 Ma.
Project description:Calcite veins hosted in pillow lavas of the Late Cretaceous Troodos suprasubduction zone ophiolite provide insights into the timing and physicochemical environment of postmagmatic fracturing and fluid circulation through oceanic crust. This study presents rare earth element and yttrium (REE+Y) concentrations, ?13C, ?18O, 87Sr/86Sr, and clumped isotopic (?47) compositions of vein calcites in order to investigate their fluid sources, formation temperatures, and precipitation ages. These geochemical data are combined with microtextural analyses. Intersections of 87Sr/86Sr ratios of vein calcites with the Sr isotope seawater curve suggest two distinct calcite veining phases. Major calcite veining within an interval of ~10 Myr after crust formation is characterized by microtextures that point to extensional fracturing related to crack and sealing, host rock brecciation, and advective fluid flow. These vein calcites show REE+Y characteristics, 87Sr/86Sr ratios, and clumped isotopic compositions indicative of precipitation from seawater at <50 °C. Extended fluid residence times intensified fluid-rock interactions and lowered Y/Ho ratios of some blocky vein calcites, whereas crack and sealing resulted in pristine seawater signatures. Low 87Sr/86Sr ratios of localized high-temperature blocky vein calcites point to the involvement of hydrothermal fluids. These calcites show Mn-controlled oscillatory growth zonations that probably developed in a closed system out of equilibrium. Later calcite veining (<75 Ma) may have coincided with rotation and/or uplift of the Troodos ophiolite. Microtextures of these vein calcites indicate fluid diffusion and fracture-independent crystallization pressure-driven veining. Their variably modified seawater signatures resulted from diffusion-related fluid interaction with hydrothermal sediments.
Project description:During Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 301, we obtained a sample of black rust from a circulation obviation retrofit kit (CORK) observatory at a borehole on the eastern flank of Juan de Fuca Ridge. Due to overpressure, the CORK had failed to seal the borehole. Hot fluids from oceanic crust had discharged to the overlying bottom seawater and resulted in the formation of black rust analogous to a hydrothermal chimney deposit. Both culture-dependent and culture-independent analyses indicated that the black-rust-associated community differed from communities reported from other microbial habitats, including hydrothermal vents at seafloor spreading centers, while it shared phylotypes with communities previously detected in crustal fluids from the same borehole. The most frequently retrieved sequences of bacterial and archaeal 16S rRNA genes were related to the genera Ammonifex and Methanothermococcus, respectively. Most phylotypes, including phylotypes previously detected in crustal fluids, were isolated in pure culture, and their metabolic traits were determined. Quantification of the dissimilatory sulfite reductase (dsrAB) genes, together with stable sulfur isotopic and electron microscopic analyses, strongly suggested the prevalence of sulfate reduction, potentially by the Ammonifex group of bacteria. Stable carbon isotopic analyses suggested that the bulk of the microbial community was trophically reliant upon photosynthesis-derived organic matter. This report provides important insights into the phylogenetic, physiological, and trophic characteristics of subseafloor microbial ecosystems in warm ridge flank crusts.
Project description:The geochemical signature of magmas generated at convergent margins greatly depends on the nature of fluids and melts released during subduction. While major- and trace-elements transport capacity of ultrahigh pressure (UHP) hydrous-silicate melts has been investigated, little is known about solute enrichment and fractionation in UHP (>3.5-4?GPa) solute-rich aqueous fluids released along colder geothermal gradients. Here, we performed in situ LA-ICP-MS trace-element analyses on selected UHP prograde-to-peak fluid inclusions trapped in a kyanite-bearing quartzite from Sulu (China). The alkali-aluminosilicate-rich aqueous fluid released from the meta-sediments by dehydration reactions is enriched in LILE, U, Th, Sr, and REE. Inclusions trapped at increasing temperature (and pressure) preserve a gradual and selective trace-element enrichment resulting from the progressive dissolution of phengite and carbonate and the partial dissolution of allanite/monazite. We show that, at the investigated P-T conditions, aqueous fluids generated by dissolution of volatile-bearing minerals fractionate trace-element distinctly from hydrous-silicate melts, regardless of the source lithology. The orogenic/post-orogenic magmas generated in a mantle enriched by metasomatic processes involving either solute-rich aqueous fluids or hydrous-silicate melts released by the slab at UHP conditions can preserve evidence of the nature of these agents.
Project description:Alteration of ultramafic rocks plays a major role in the production of hydrocarbons and organic compounds via abiotic processes on Earth and beyond and contributes to the redistribution of C between solid and fluid reservoirs over geological cycles. Abiotic methanogenesis in ultramafic rocks is well documented at shallow conditions, whereas natural evidence at greater depths is scarce. Here we provide evidence for intense high-pressure abiotic methanogenesis by reduction of subducted ophicarbonates. Protracted (?0.5-1?Ma), probably episodic infiltration of reduced fluids in the ophicarbonates and methanogenesis occurred from at least ?40?km depth to ?15-20?km depth. Textural, petrological and isotopic data indicate that methane reached saturation triggering the precipitation of graphitic C accompanied by dissolution of the precursor antigorite. Continuous infiltration of external reducing fluids caused additional methane production by interaction with the newly formed graphite. Alteration of high-pressure carbonate-bearing ultramafic rocks may represent an important source of abiotic methane, with strong implications for the mobility of deep C reservoirs.