Mineralium Deposita (v.46, #2)
U redox fronts and kaolinisation in basement-hosted unconformity-related U ores of the Athabasca Basin (Canada): late U remobilisation by meteoric fluids by Julien Mercadier; Michel Cuney; Michel Cathelineau; Mathieu Lacorde (105-135).
Proterozoic basement-hosted unconformity-related uranium deposits of the Athabasca Basin (Saskatchewan, Canada) were affected by significant uranium redistribution along oxidation–reduction redox fronts related to cold and late meteoric fluid infiltration. These redox fronts exhibit the same mineralogical and geochemical features as the well-studied uranium roll-front deposits in siliclastic rocks. The primary hydrothermal uranium mineralisation (1.6–1.3 Ga) of basement-hosted deposits is strongly reworked to new disseminated ores comprising three distinctly coloured zones: a white-green zone corresponding to the previous clay-rich alteration halo contemporaneous with hydrothermal ores, a uranium front corresponding to the uranium deposition zone of the redox front (brownish zone, rich in goethite) and a hematite-rich red zone marking the front progression. The three zones directly reflect the mineralogical zonation related to uranium oxides (pitchblende), sulphides, iron minerals (hematite and goethite) and alumino-phosphate-sulphate (APS) minerals. The zoning can be explained by processes of dissolution–precipitation along a redox interface and was produced by the infiltration of cold (<50°C) meteoric fluids to the hydrothermally altered areas. U, Fe, Ca, Pb, S, REE, V, Y, W, Mo and Se were the main mobile elements in this process, and their distribution within the three zones was, for most of them, directly dependent on their redox potential. The elements concentrated in the redox fronts were sourced by the alteration of previously crystallised hydrothermal minerals, such as uranium oxides and light rare earth element (LREE)-rich APS. The uranium oxides from the redox front are characterised by LREE-enriched patterns, which differ from those of unconformity-related ores and clearly demonstrate their distinct conditions of formation. Uranium redox front formation is thought to be linked to fluid circulation episodes initiated during the 400–300 Ma period during uplift and erosion of the Athabasca Basin when it was near the Equator and to have been still active during the last million years. A major kaolinisation event was caused by changes in the fluid circulation regime, reworking the primary uranium redox fronts and causing the redistribution of elements originally concentrated in the uranium-enriched meteoric-related redox fronts.
Keywords: Redox; Front; Uranium; Athabasca; Canada; Remobilisation; Meteoric; Kaolinite
Paleomagnetism of the Cu–Zn–Pb-bearing Kupferschiefer black shale (Upper Permian) at Sangerhausen, Germany by David T. A. Symons; Kazuo Kawasaki; Sabine Walther; Gregor Borg (137-152).
Syngenetic, diagenetic and epigenetic models have been proposed for the Cu–Zn–Pb Kupferschiefer mineralization at Sangerhausen, Germany. Paleomagnetic and rock magnetic measurements have been made on 205 specimens from mine workings on the margin of the Sangerhausen Syncline. The mineralization is richest in the ∼0.5-m-thick Upper Permian (258 ± 2 Ma) Kupferschiefer black marly shale (nine sites) and dies out over ∼0.2 m in the underlying Weisliegend sandstones (three sites) and overlying Zechstein carbonates (two sites). Except for one site of fault zone gypsum, characteristic remanent magnetization directions were isolated for all 14 sites using alternating field and thermal step demagnetization. These directions provide a negative fold test, indicating that the remanence postdates Jurassic fault block tilting. Rock magnetic measurements show that the Kupferschiefer shale marks a redox front between the oxidized Weissliegend sandstones and non-oxidized Zechstein carbonates. The 14 site directions give a Late Jurassic paleopole at 149 ± 3 Ma. It is significantly different from the paleopole reported by E.C. Jowett and others for primary or early diagenetic Rote Fäule alteration that gives an age of 254 ± 6 Ma on the current apparent polar wander path and is associated with Kupferschiefer mineralization. We suggest that the Late Jurassic extensional tectonic event that formed the nearby North German Basin also reactivated Variscan basement faults and extended them up through the overlying strata, thereby allowing hydrothermal basement fluids to ascend and epigenetically mineralize the Kupferschiefer shale. The possibility of a 53 ± 3 Ma mineralization age is also considered.
Keywords: Eastern Germany; Geochronology; Kupferschiefer ore; Paleomagnetism; Sangerhausen mining district
The Permian Huangshanxi Cu–Ni deposit in western China: intrusive–extrusive association, ore genesis, and exploration implications by Mingjie Zhang; Chusi Li; Piaoer Fu; Peiqing Hu; Edward M. Ripley (153-170).
The Permian Huangshanxi Cu–Ni deposit is the second largest magmatic sulfide deposit discovered to date in a major Ni–Cu province related to protracted basaltic magmatism in eastern Xinjiang, China. It is hosted by a small mafic–ultramafic intrusion comprised predominantly of lherzolites, olivine websterites, gabbronorites, and gabbros. The Huangshanxi intrusion is coeval with Permian basalts of tholeiitic and alkaline affinities in the Tuha and Tarim basins, respectively. To evaluate a possible genetic relationship between the Huangshanxi intrusion and a specific type of coeval basalt in the region, as well as ore genesis in the intrusion, we have carried out an integrated mineralogical, petrological, and geochemical study. Our data reveal that the Huangshanxi intrusive rocks are characterized by relatively flat chondrite-normalized REE patterns, depletion in Nb and Ta, and elevated εNd values varying between 6 and 10. These features are similar to those of coeval tholeiitic basalts in the nearby Tuha basin, but are significantly different from those of coeval alkaline basalts in the relatively remote Tarim basin. The geochemical similarities and differences suggest that the Huangshanxi intrusion is genetically related to the tholeiitic basalts in the Tuha basin, not to the alkaline basalts in the Tarim basin, as suggested previously by some researchers. This implies that regional exploration for the Huangshanxi-type Cu–Ni deposits should be centered in the Tuha basin instead of the Tarim basin. More specifically, the uplifted areas around the Tuha basin where similar intrusions may have been brought close to the surface should be carefully examined for mineralization potential. Intrusive relations and mass balance constraints from incompatible trace elements and sulfide abundances suggest that the Huangshanxi intrusion represents a dynamic magma conduit through which multiple pulses of magma ascended to higher levels or to the surface. Numerical simulation of magma evolution and mixing calculations using Sr–Nd isotopes indicate that selective assimilation of S-bearing crustal materials is important for sulfide saturation during the early stages of magma evolution when lherzolites formed. Fractional crystallization may have also played a role in the attainment of sulfide saturation during the later stages of magma evolution when olivine websterites and gabbronorites formed. In both cases, immiscible sulfide droplets were retained in the conduit to form disseminated sulfide lenses while the fractionated silicate liquids and buoyant phases such as plagioclase continued to ascend. Extremely low PGE tenors in the sulfide ores of the Huangshanxi deposit suggest that the parental magma was highly depleted in chalcophile elements possibly due to previous sulfide segregation at depth.
Keywords: Permian mantle plume; Magmatic affinity; Sulfide saturation; Sulfide concentration; Cu–Ni deposit; Huangshanxi intrusion
Re–Os and 40Ar/39Ar ages of the Jiguanshan porphyry Mo deposit, Xilamulun metallogenic belt, NE China, and constraints on mineralization events by Huaying Wu; Lianchang Zhang; Bo Wan; Zhiguang Chen; Peng Xiang; Franco Pirajno; Andao Du; Wenjun Qu (171-185).
The large Jiguanshan porphyry Mo deposit, with more than 100 Mt of ore and grades ranging from 0.08% to 0.11%, is located in the newly identified Xilamulun metallogenic belt along the northern margin of the North China Craton. The Mo mineralization is predominantly disseminated in the host granite porphyry, but locally occurs as stockworks in lithic tuff and rhyolitic rocks. 40Ar/39Ar dates of samples from groundmass material in the host granite porphyry, post-ore diabase, and quartz porphyry dikes show plateau ages of 155.1 ± 1.9, 149.4 ± 0.9, and 147.6 ± 0.9 Ma, with inverse isochron ages of 156.0 ± 1.8, 149.3 ± 1.3, and 148.3 ± 1.2 Ma, respectively. Seven samples of disseminated molybdenite yielded a weighted average 187Re-187Os age of 155.3 ± 0.9 Ma, whereas six veinlet-type molybdenite samples yielded a weighted average 187Re-187Os age of 153.0 ± 0.9 Ma, providing direct timing constraints for the Mo mineralization at 153–155 Ma. The regional geological setting together with the emplacement of post-ore diabase and quartz porphyry dikes in the Jiguanshan deposit, are indicative of an extensional regime in Late Jurassic, which was probably linked to lithospheric extension in northeast China.
Keywords: Re–Os; Molybdenite; 40Ar/39Ar dates; Jiguanshan porphyry Mo deposit; Xilamulun metallogenic belt; Northeast China
Mineral chemical study of U-bearing minerals from the Dominion Reefs, South Africa by Ulrike Rantzsch; Christoph D. K. Gauert; Willem A. Van der Westhuizen; Isabelle Duhamel; Michel Cuney; Gerhard J. Beukes (187-196).
The Neo-Archean Dominion Reefs (~3.06 Ga) are thin meta-conglomerate layers with concentrations of U- and Th-bearing heavy minerals higher than in the overlying Witwatersrand Reefs. Ore samples from Uranium One Africa’s Rietkuil and Dominion exploration areas near Klerksdorp, South Africa, were investigated for their mineral paragenesis, texture and mineral chemical composition. The ore and heavy mineral assemblages consist of uraninite, other uraniferous minerals, Fe sulphides, Ni–Co sulfarsenides, garnet, pyrite, pyrrhotite, monazite, zircon, chromite, magnetite and minor gold. Sub-rounded uraninite grains occur associated with the primary detrital heavy mineral paragenesis. U–Ti, U–Th minerals, pitchblende (colloform uraninite) and coffinite are of secondary, re-mobilised origin as evidenced by crystal shape and texture. Most of the uranium mineralisation is represented by detrital uraninite with up to 70.2 wt.% UO2 and up to 9.3 wt.% ThO2. Re-crystallised phases such as secondary pitchblende (without Th), coffinite, U–Ti and U–Th phases are related to hydrothermal overprint during low-grade metamorphism and are of minor abundance.
Keywords: U–Au palaeo-placer; Dominion Group; Detrital uraninites; South Africa
Geothermal mineralized scales in the pipe system of the geothermal Piancastagnaio power plant (Mt. Amiata geothermal area): a key to understand the stibnite, cinnabarite and gold mineralization of Tuscany (central Italy) by Giulio Morteani; Giovanni Ruggieri; Peter Möller; Christine Preinfalk (197-210).
The CO2-rich geothermal fluids produced in the Piancastagnaio geothermal field (Mt. Amiata geothermal area, Southern Tuscany, Italy) show temperatures up to 360°C and pressures of about 200 bar at depths of around 3,500 m (Giolito, Ph.D. thesis, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy, pp 1–147, 2005). CaCO3- and/or SiO2-dominated scales are deposited in the pipes leading to the pressure and atmospheric separators of the geothermal wells. High content of metastibnite and/or stibnite in both calcite and silica scales and Sb contents of up to 50 mg/L in the fluids indicate their mineralising potential. The red or black colours of the scales depend on the predominance of red metastibnite or black stibnite, respectively. In our condensation experiments, as well as during deposition of the scales, metastibnite is the first Sb2S3 mineral to form. In a second stage, metastibnite is transformed to stibnite. During depressurization the Hg content of geothermal fluids partitions preferentially into the gas phase, whereas Sb and As remain in the liquid phase. This separation explains the often observed areal separation of Hg and Sb mineralization. The multistage deposition of Sb in the mining district of Tuscany is due to a periodic restoration of the permeability of the ore-bearing faults by microseismic events and subsequent host rock brecciation. The still ongoing microseismic events are induced by the accumulation of high-pressure CO2-rich fluids along faults followed by mechanical failure of the faults.
Keywords: Cinnabar; Epithermal; Geothermal fluids; Italy; Mt. Amiata; Stibnite; Tuscany