Mechanisms of fluid flow and fluid–rock interaction in fossil metamorphic hydrothermal systems inferred from vein–wallrock patterns, geometry and microstructure

Oliver, Nicholas H.S., and Bons, Paul D. (2001) Mechanisms of fluid flow and fluid–rock interaction in fossil metamorphic hydrothermal systems inferred from vein–wallrock patterns, geometry and microstructure. Geofluids, 1 (2). pp. 137-162.

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Abstract

Comparison of mass transfer patterns, geometry and microstructures developed within and around veins allows the interpretation of processes of fluid flow during deformation, metamorphism and mineralization. A classification of vein types based on the degree of interaction with wallrock (using petrological, geochemical or isotopic indicators) can be used to identify a range of processes, from closed system behaviour in which the vein mass is derived from local wallrock, through to open system behaviour in which the vein mass is derived externally. Microstructural characteristics, such as wallrock selvages, multiple growth events recorded by vein seams and vein crystal morphology, also help to constrain mass transfer patterns during vein formation. We present a range of processes for vein formation, including: (i) the formation of closed system fibrous veins by dissolution–precipitation creep, including varieties in which tensile failure is not required; (ii) pressure- or kinetically dependent closed system segregation veins in which transfer of soluble components from wallrock to vein leaves behind a residual selvage; (iii) similar vein–selvage patterning, but with mass imbalances between vein and wallrock requiring fluid advection through both interconnected fracture networks and in the surrounding permeable rock; and (iv) the proposed formation of veins by fluid ascent in mobile hydrofractures, in which isotopic or chemical disequilibrium within and around the vein suggests that the crack and fluid within it moved essentially as one. The postulate of rapid fluid and mass transfer via such mobile hydrofractures has implications for the release of volatiles from metamorphic terrains. Also, consideration of a broad range of possible vein-forming mechanisms is highly desirable when dealing with mineral deposits found in deformed, metamorphosed rocks, because closed system veining may produce patterns that, if erroneously recognized as being open systems, could lead to false interpretations of the role of tectonic fracturing in ore genesis.

Item ID: 13215
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1468-8123
Keywords: deformation; fluid-rock interaction; fracture analysis; mechanics; metamorphism; mineralisation
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2010 23:00
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040304 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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