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Infrared microthermometric and stable isotopic study of fluid inclusions in wolframite at the Xihuashan tungsten deposit, Jiangxi province, China

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The Xihuashan tungsten deposit, Jiangxi province, China, is a world-class vein-type ore deposit hosted in Cambrian strata and Mesozoic granitic intrusions. There are two major sets of subparallel ore-bearing quartz veins. The ore mineral assemblage includes wolframite and molybdenite, with minor amounts of arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite, and pyrite. There are only two-phase aqueous-rich inclusions in wolframite but at least three major types of inclusions in quartz: two- or three-phase CO2-rich inclusions, two-phase pure CO2 inclusions and two-phase aqueous inclusions, indicating boiling. Fluid inclusions in wolframite have relatively higher homogenization temperatures and salinities (239–380°C, 3.8–13.7 wt.% NaCl equiv) compared with those in quartz (177–329°C, 0.9–8.1 wt.% NaCl equiv). These distinct differences suggest that those conventional microthermometric data from quartz are not adequate to explain the ore formation process. Enthalpy–salinity plot shows a linear relationship, implying mixing of different sources of fluids. Although boiling occurred during vein-type mineralization, it seems negligible for wolframite deposition. Mixing is the dominant mechanism of wolframite precipitation in Xihuashan. δ34S values of the sulfides range from −1.6 to +0.1‰, indicative of a magmatic source of sulfur. δ18O values of wolframite are relatively homogeneous, ranging from +4.8‰ to +6.3‰. Oxygen isotope modeling of boiling and mixing processes also indicates that mixing of two different fluids was an important mechanism in the precipitation of wolframite.

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The authors give special thanks to geologists for helpful field assistance. Discussions with and advice from Mei-Fu Zhou, Huanzhang Lu, Chen Zhu, and Hong Zhong are appreciated. Our thanks are also due to Volker Lüders, an anonymous reviewer, and Bernd Lehmann for their careful and constructive comments and suggestions, which significantly improved the manuscript. This work was financially supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No 2007CB411400, 2007CB411404, 2007CB411408) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Innovational Program (Grant No KZCX2-YW-Q04).

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Correspondence to Ruizhong Hu.

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Wei, W., Hu, R., Bi, X. et al. Infrared microthermometric and stable isotopic study of fluid inclusions in wolframite at the Xihuashan tungsten deposit, Jiangxi province, China. Miner Deposita 47, 589–605 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-011-0377-0

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  • Infrared microthermometry
  • Fluid inclusions
  • Tungsten deposit
  • Stable isotopes
  • Xihuashan
  • China