Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Tourmaline boron and strontium isotope systematics reveal magmatic fluid pulses and external fluid influx in a giant iron oxide-apatite (IOA) deposit

June 13, 2019

Tourmaline is a common boron-bearing mineral in hydrothermal system and has been widely used as a mineral probe to reconstruct geological processes because of its broad range in composition and resistance to metasomatic alteration. The origin of Kiruna-type iron oxide-apatite (IOA) deposits, commonly linked to andesitic subvolcanic or volcanic rocks, is highly controversial. Constraints on the evolution of these mineralizing systems are needed to advance understanding of the ore-forming process. In this study, we apply in situ elemental and combined B-Sr isotopic analyses of tourmaline to elucidate the nature and evolution of the subsurface hydrothermal system associated with IOA mineralization in the giant Taocun deposit, eastern China.

Taocun is hosted at the top of a diorite intrusion and exhibits three stages of hydrothermal alteration that contain tourmaline: pre-ore Na alteration (Tur I), syn-ore magnetite formation and associated Ca-Fe alteration (Tur II), and post-ore Ca-Mg alteration with sulfide veins (Tur III). Compositional data for each stage of tourmaline plot along the “oxy-dravite”–povondraite join, which is indicative of precipitation from relatively oxidizing fluids. Ranges of Sr-isotopic compositions in Tur I (0.7065–0.7078) and Tur II (0.7068–0.7076) are identical to those of the igneous host rocks, indicating precipitation from magmatic-hydrothermal fluids. The range of B-isotopic compositions in Tur I (δ11B values of −6.3‰ to −1.2‰) is also consistent with a magmatic source. Higher δ11B values (−2.4‰ to 5.4‰) obtained from Tur II are mainly ascribed to Rayleigh fractionation in the magmatic-hydrothermal system as tourmaline precipitated. Post-ore Tur III has a wide range of mostly lower B-isotopic compositions (−8.5‰ to 0.8‰) that record another pulse of magmatic fluid input. This interpretation is supported by the enrichment of Na, Li, Be, W, Sn, V, and Ti in Tur III, relative to Tur I and II. However, the higher Sr-isotope composition (0.7076–0.7086) of Tur III and available O-isotope composition (−7‰ to 3.5‰) of fluids of this stage record the infiltration of meteoric ground water from adjacent sedimentary country rocks. The results suggest that the Taocun IOA deposit formed in a magmatic-hydrothermal system characterized by two (or more) pulses of magmatic fluid discharge from subvolcanic diorite intrusions, followed by the influx of external ground water as the system waned. This study highlights the utility of tourmaline as a robust geochemical and isotopic monitor of ore-forming processes in such systems.

Publication Year 2019
Title Tourmaline boron and strontium isotope systematics reveal magmatic fluid pulses and external fluid influx in a giant iron oxide-apatite (IOA) deposit
DOI 10.1016/j.gca.2019.06.006
Authors Zhi-kun Su, Xinfu Zhao, Li-ping Zeng, Kui-dong Zhao, Albert H. Hofstra
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Index ID 70223691
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center