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Type: Journal article
Title: Zircon at the nanoscale records metasomatic processes leading to large magmatic-hydrothermal ore systems
Author: Courtney-Davies, L.
Ciobanu, C.L.
Verdugo Ihl, M.R.
Slattery, A.
Cook, N.J.
Dmitrijeva, M.
Keyser, W.
Wade, B.P.
Domnick, U.I.
Ehrig, K.
Xu, J.
Kontonikas-Charos, A.
Citation: Minerals, 2019; 9(6):364-1-364-34
Publisher: MDPI AG
Issue Date: 2019
ISSN: 2075-163X
Statement of
Liam Courtney-Davies, Cristiana L. Ciobanu, Max R. Verdugo-Ihl, Ashley Slattery, Nigel J. Cook, Marija Dmitrijeva, William Keyser, Benjamin P. Wade, Urs I. Domnick, Kathy Ehrig, Jing Xu, and Alkiviadis Kontonikas-Charos
Abstract: The petrography and geochemistry of zircon offers an exciting opportunity to better understand the genesis of, as well as identify pathfinders for, large magmatic–hydrothermal ore systems. Electron probe microanalysis, laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF-STEM) imaging, and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry STEM mapping/spot analysis were combined to characterize Proterozoic granitic zircon in the eastern Gawler Craton, South Australia. Granites from the ~1.85 Ga Donington Suite and ~1.6 Ga Hiltaba Suite were selected from locations that are either mineralized or not, with the same style of iron-oxide copper gold (IOCG) mineralization. Although Donington Suite granites are host to mineralization in several prospects, only Hiltaba Suite granites are considered “fertile” in that their emplacement at ~1.6 Ga is associated with generation of one of the best metal-endowed IOCG provinces on Earth. Crystal oscillatory zoning with respect to non-formula elements, notably Fe and Cl, are textural and chemical features preserved in zircon, with no evidence for U or Pb accumulation relating to amorphization effects. Bands with Fe and Ca show mottling with respect to chloro–hydroxy–zircon nanoprecipitates. Lattice defects occur along fractures crosscutting such nanoprecipitates indicating fluid infiltration post-mottling. Lattice stretching and screw dislocations leading to expansion of the zircon structure are the only nanoscale structures attributable to self-induced irradiation damage. These features increase in abundance in zircons from granites hosting IOCG mineralization, including from the world-class Olympic Dam Cu–U–Au–Ag deposit. The nano- to micron-scale features documented reflect interaction between magmatic zircon and corrosive Fe–Cl-bearing fluids in an initial metasomatic event that follows magmatic crystallization and immediately precedes deposition of IOCG mineralization. Quantification of α-decay damage that could relate zircon alteration to the first percolation point in zircon gives ~100 Ma, a time interval that cannot be reconciled with the 2–4 Ma period between magmatic crystallization and onset of hydrothermal fluid flow. Crystal oscillatory zoning and nanoprecipitate mottling in zircon intensify with proximity to mineralization and represent a potential pathfinder to locate fertile granites associated with Cu–Au mineralization.
Keywords: Zircon; IOCG deposits; Olympic Cu–Au Province; HAADF STEM; Fe–Cl-metasomatism; chloro–hydroxy–zircon nanoprecipitates; granite fertility
Rights: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
DOI: 10.3390/min9060364
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