Geology and genesis of the Toongi rare metal (Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta, Y and REE) deposit, NSW, Australia, and implications for rare metal mineralization in peralkaline igneous rocks

Spandler, Carl, and Morris, Caitlin (2016) Geology and genesis of the Toongi rare metal (Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta, Y and REE) deposit, NSW, Australia, and implications for rare metal mineralization in peralkaline igneous rocks. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 171 (12). pp. 1-24.

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Abstract

The Toongi Deposit, located in central NSW, Australia, hosts significant resources of Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta, Y and REE within a small (ca. 0.3 km(2)), rapidly cooled trachyte laccolith. Toongi is part of regional Late Triassic to Jurassic alkaline magmatic field, but is distinguished from the other igneous bodies by its peralkaline composition and economically significant rare metal content that is homogenously distributed throughout the trachyte body. The primary ore minerals are evenly dispersed throughout the rock and include lueshite/natroniobite and complex Na-Fe-Zr-Nb-Y-REE silicate minerals dominated by a eudialyte group mineral (EGM). The EGM occurs in a unique textural setting in the rock, commonly forming spheroidal or irregular-shaped globules, herein called "snowballs", within the rock matrix. The snowballs are often protruded by aegirine and feldspar phenocrysts and contain swarms of fine aegirine and feldspar grains that often form spiral or swirling patterns within the snowball. Secondary ore minerals include REE carbonates, Y milarite, catapleiite and gaidonnayite that fill fractures and vesicles in the rock. Based on bulk-rock geochemical and Nd isotope data, and thermodynamic modelling of magma fractionation, the alkaline rocks of the region are interpreted to represent extrusive to hyperbyssal products of mantle-derived magma that ponded at mid-crustal levels (ca. 0.3 GPa) and underwent extensive fractionation under low-oxygen fugacity conditions. The high Na2O, peralkaline nature of the Toongi Deposit trachyte developed via extensive fractionation of an alkali olivine basalt parental magma initially in the mid-crust and subsequently at shallow levels (ca. 0.1 GPa). This extended fractionation under low fO(2) and relatively low H2O-activity conditions limited volatile release and allowed build-up of rare metal contents to ore grades. We speculate that the ore minerals may have originally formed from rare metal-rich sodic-silicate melt that formed immiscible globules (subsequently crystallized to EGM) in the magma shortly before emplacement and rapid cooling. Subsequent hydrothermal alteration caused relatively limited and localized remobilization of some ore metals into fractures and vesicles in the rock.

Item ID: 47038
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0967
Keywords: peralkaline magma, rare metal mineralization, Toongi, crystal fractionation, liquid immiscibility, eudialyte, zirconium
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Future Fellowship FT120100198
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2017 07:46
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040304 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040307 Ore Deposit Petrology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8401 Mineral Exploration > 840107 Titanium Minerals, Zircon, and Rare Earth Metal Ore (e.g. Monazite) Exploration @ 100%
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