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Fractionation of Li, Be, Ga, Nb, Ta, In, Sn, Sb, W and Bi in the peraluminous Early Permian Variscan granites of the Cornubian Batholith: precursor processes to magmatic-hydrothermal mineralisation

Simons, Beth; Andersen, Jens C. Ø; Shail, Robin K. and Jenner, Frances E. (2017). Fractionation of Li, Be, Ga, Nb, Ta, In, Sn, Sb, W and Bi in the peraluminous Early Permian Variscan granites of the Cornubian Batholith: precursor processes to magmatic-hydrothermal mineralisation. Lithos, 278-281 pp. 491–512.

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The Early Permian Variscan Cornubian Batholith is a peraluminous, composite pluton intruded into Devonian and Carboniferous metamorphosed sedimentary and volcanic rocks. Within the batholith there are: G1 (two-mica), G2 (muscovite), G3 (biotite), G4 (tourmaline) and G5 (topaz) granites. G1-G2 and G3-G4 are derived from greywacke sources and linked through fractionation of assemblages dominated by feldspars and biotite, with minor mantle involvement in G3. G5 formed though flux-induced biotite-dominate melting in the lower crust during granulite facies metamorphism. Fractionation enriched G2 granites in Li (average 315 ppm), Be (12 ppm), Ta (4.4 ppm), In (74 ppb), Sn (18 ppm) and W (12 ppm) relative to crustal abundances and G1 granites. Gallium (24 ppm), Nb (16 ppm) and Bi (0.46 ppm) are not significantly enriched during fractionation, implying they are more compatible in the fractionating assemblage. Sb (0.16 ppm) is depleted in G1-G2 relative to the average upper and lower continental crust. Muscovite, a late-stage magmatic/subsolidus mineral, is the major host of Li, Nb, In, Sn and W in G2 granites. G2 granites are spatially associated with W-Sn greisen mineralisation.

Fractionation within the younger G3-G4 granite system enriched Li (average 364 ppm), Ga (28 ppm), In (80 ppb), Sn (14 ppm), Nb (27 ppm), Ta (4.6 ppm), W (6.3 ppm) and Bi (0.61 ppm) in the G4 granites with retention of Be in G3 granites due to partitioning of Be into cordierite during fractionation. The distribution of Nb and Ta is controlled by accessory phases such as rutile within the G4 granites, facilitated by high F and lowering the melt temperature, leading to disseminated Nb and Ta mineralisation. Lithium, In, Sn and W are hosted in biotite micas which may prove favourable for breakdown on ingress of hydrothermal fluids. Higher degrees of scattering on trace element plots may be attributable to fluid–rock interactions or variability within the magma chamber. The G3-G4 system is more boron-rich, evidenced by a higher modal abundance of tourmaline. In this system, there is a stronger increase of Sn compared to G1-G2 granites, implying Sn in tourmaline-dominated mineral lodes may represent exsolution from G4 granites.

G1-G4 granite abundances can be accounted for by 20–30% partial melting and 10–40% fractionation of a greywacke source. G5 granites are analogues of Rare Metal Granites described in France and Germany. These granites are enriched in Li (average 1363 ppm), Ga (38 ppm), Sn (21 ppm), W (24 ppm), Nb (52 ppm) and Ta (15 ppm). Within G5 granites, the metals partition into accessory minerals such as rutile, columbite-tantalite and cassiterite, forming disseminated magmatic mineralisation. High observed concentrations of Li, In, Sn, W, Nb and Ta in G4 and G5 granites are likely facilitated by high F, Li and P, which lower melt temperature and promote retention of these elements in the melt, prior to crystallisation of disseminated magmatic mineralisation.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 The Authors
ISSN: 1872-6143
Keywords: granite; geochemistry; trace metals; Variscan; peraluminous; Cornubian
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Health and Wellbeing PRA (Priority Research Area)
Item ID: 48701
Depositing User: Frances Jenner
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2017 16:10
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 11:23
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