Cryptic sediment-hosted critical element mineralization from eastern Yunnan Province, southwestern China: Mineralogy, geochemistry, relationship to Emeishan alkaline magmatism and possible origin

Lixin Zhao, Shifeng Dai, Ian T. Graham, Xiao Li, Huidong Liu, Xiaolin Song, James C. Hower, Yiping Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations

Abstract

A previous study briefly described the occurrence of a new type of Nb(Ta)-Zr(Hf)-REY-Ga (REY: rare earth elements and yttrium) polymetallic mineralization in eastern Yunnan, southwest China. In this paper, the mineralogical and geochemical features have been further advanced through a study of two regionally extensive and relatively flat-lying mineralized layers from No. XW drill core. The layers are clay-altered volcanic ash and tuffaceous clay, and are dominated by clay minerals (mixed layer illite/smectite, kaolinite, berthierine, and chamosite); with lesser amounts of quartz and variable amounts of anatase, siderite and calcite; along with trace pyrite, barite, zircon, ilmenite, galena, chalcopyrite, and REE-bearing minerals. The mineralized samples have higher Al2O3/TiO2 values (13.7–41.4) and abundant rare metal elements (Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, REE, Ga, Th, and U) whereas less mineralized samples are rich in V, Cr, Co, and Ni and have lower Al2O3/TiO2 values (2.32–7.67). The mineralized samples also have strong negative δEu in chondrite-normalized REE patterns. Two processes are most likely responsible for the geochemical and mineralogical anomalies of the mineralized samples: airborne volcanic ash and multi-stage injection of low-temperature hydrothermal fluids. Based on paragenetic analysis, this polymetallic mineralization is derived from the interaction between alkaline volcanic ashes and subsequent percolation of low-temperature fluids. The intense and extensive alkaline volcanism of the early Late Permian inferred from this study possibly originated from the coeval Emeishan large igneous province (ELIP). This unique Nb(Ta)-Zr(Hf)-REE-Ga mineralization style has significant economic and geological potential for the study of mineralization of the lowest Xuanwei Formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-140
Number of pages25
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Volume80
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Alkaline volcanism
  • Emeishan
  • Hydrothermal fluids
  • Nb(Ta)-Zr(Hf)-REE-Ga mineralization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology

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