Enrichment of U-Re-V-Cr-Se and rare earth elements in the Late Permian coals of the Moxinpo Coalfield, Chongqing, China: Genetic implications from geochemical and mineralogical data

Shifeng Dai, Panpan Xie, Shaohui Jia, Colin R. Ward, James C. Hower, Xiaoyun Yan, David French

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Rare metals in coal deposits have attracted much attention in recent years because of their potential economic significance. This paper reports the abundance and enrichment origin of rare metals in the Late Permian coals (K1 and K2 Coals) of the Moxinpo Coalfield, Chongqing, southwestern China. The K1 Coal is characterized by highly-elevated concentrations of U-Re-V-Cr-Se and Nb(Ta)-Zr(Hf)-REE assemblages; the latter assemblage is also enriched in the K2 Coal. The high temperature ash (815 °C) of the K1 Coal is enriched in V, Cr, Se, Re, U and REE; the ash of the K2 Coal, and also the floor strata of each seam, are enriched in REE, potentially making all of the units economically viable sources for these elements. The minerals in the K1 Coal are mainly represented by kaolinite, illite and mixed-layer illite/smectite, and pyrite, while the minerals in the K2 Coal consist mainly of kaolinite and tobelite [(NH4,K)Al2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2]. Authigenic roscoelite [K(V3 +,Al)2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2] is commonly observed in the K1 Coal under the SEM, and was probably formed by interaction of kaolinite with V derived from permeating U-Re-V-Cr-Se-rich solutions during early diagenesis. The tobelite enriched in the K2 Coal was formed by reaction between kaolinite already present in the coal and NH4 + derived from decomposition of the organic matter during hydrothermal alteration at a relatively high temperature. The mafic tuffs directly underlying the K1 Coal and containing limestone residual breccias not only served as the substrate for coal accumulation but also as the source of sediment from the uplifted areas around the coal basin. The latter is indicated by low Al2O3/TiO2 ratios (from 10.09 to 14.24), positive Eu anomalies enrichment of medium rare earths (relative to upper continental crust), and detrital calcite of terrigenous origin. The highly-elevated concentrations of U-Re-V-Cr-Se assemblages in the coal were derived from exfiltrational hydrothermal solutions and were then deposited in a euxinic environment. The terrigenous materials in the K2 Coal, however, were derived from felsic-intermediate rocks at the top of the Kangdian Upland, although the elevated concentrations of Nb(Ta)-Zr(Hf)-REE assemblages are attributed to the input of hydrothermal solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalOre Geology Reviews
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 41420104001 ), the National Key Basic Research Program of China (no. 2014CB238902 ), and the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (no. IRT13099 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Hydrothermal solutions
  • Rare earth elements
  • Rare metals in coal
  • Roscoelite
  • Tobelite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology


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