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Sediment and weathering control on the distribution of Paleozoic magmatic tin–tungsten mineralization

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The formation of major granite-hosted Sn and/or W deposits and lithium–cesium–tantalum (LCT) type pegmatites in the Acadian, Variscan, and Alleghanian orogenic belts of Europe and Atlantic Northern America involves weathering-related Sn and W enrichment in the sedimentary debris of the Cadomian magmatic arc and melting of these sedimentary source rocks during later tectonic events, followed by magmatic Sn and W enrichment. We suggest that within this, more than 3,000-km long late Paleozoic belt, large Sn and/or W deposits are only found in regions where later redeposition of the Sn–W-enriched weathered sediments, followed by tectonic accumulation, created large volumes of Sn–W-enriched sedimentary rocks. Melting of these packages occurred both during the formation of Pangea, when continental collision subjected these source rocks to high-grade metamorphism and anatexis, and during post-orogenic crustal extension and mantle upwelling. The uncoupling of source enrichment and source melting explains (i) the diachronous occurrence of tin granites and LCT pegmatites in this late Paleozoic orogenic belt, (ii) the occurrence of Sn and/or W mineralizations and LCT pegmatites on both sides of the Rheic suture, and (iii) the contrasting tectonic setting of Sn and/or W mineralizations within this belt. Source enrichment, sedimentary and tectonic accumulation of the source rocks, and heat input to mobilize metals from the source rocks are three unrelated requirements for the formation of Sn and/or W granites. They are the controlling features on the large scale. Whether a particular granite eventually generates a Sn and/or W deposit depends on local conditions related to source melting, melt extraction, and fractionation processes.

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We thank Lukáš Krmiček (Brno) for information on Czech Sn granites and rare-element pegmatites. We greatly appreciate constructive suggestions by two anonymous reviewers and thoughtful editorial handling by R.L. Linnen and G. Beaudoin.

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Correspondence to Rolf L. Romer.

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Romer, R.L., Kroner, U. Sediment and weathering control on the distribution of Paleozoic magmatic tin–tungsten mineralization. Miner Deposita 50, 327–338 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-014-0540-5

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  • Tin granite
  • Rare element pegmatite
  • Tin province
  • Variscan orogeny
  • Crustal melting
  • Chemical weathering