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REE enrichment in granite-derived regolith deposits of the southeast United States: Prospective source rocks and accumulation processes

January 1, 2015

The Southeastern United States contains numerous anorogenic, or A-type, granites, which constitute promising source rocks for REE-enriched ion adsorption clay deposits due to their inherently high concentrations of REE. These granites have undergone a long history of chemical weathering, resulting in thick granite-derived regoliths, akin to those of South China, which supply virtually all heavy REE and Y, and a significant portion of light REE to global markets. Detailed comparisons of granite regolith profiles formed on the Stewartsville and Striped Rock plutons, and the Robertson River batholith (Virginia) indicate that REE are mobile and can attain grades comparable to those of deposits currently mined in China. A REE-enriched parent, either A-type or I-type (highly fractionated igneous type) granite, is thought to be critical for generating the high concentrations of REE in regolith profiles. One prominent feature we recognize in many granites and mineralized regoliths is the tetrad behaviour displayed in REE chondrite-normalized patterns. Tetrad patterns in granite and regolith result from processes that promote the redistribution, enrichment, and fractionation of REE, such as late- to post- magmatic alteration of granite and silicate hydrolysis in the regolith. Thus, REE patterns showing tetrad effects may be a key for discriminating highly prospective source rocks and regoliths with potential for REE ion adsorption clay deposits.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title REE enrichment in granite-derived regolith deposits of the southeast United States: Prospective source rocks and accumulation processes
Authors Nora K. Foley, Robert A. Ayuso
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70162148
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center