Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 50, Issue 7, pp 871–884 | Cite as

In situ Sr isotope analysis of apatite by LA-MC-ICPMS: constraints on the evolution of ore fluids of the Yinachang Fe-Cu-REE deposit, Southwest China

  • Xin-Fu Zhao
  • Mei-Fu Zhou
  • Jian-Feng Gao
  • Xiao-Chun Li
  • Jian-Wei Li


Apatite is a ubiquitous accessory mineral in a variety of rocks and hydrothermal ores. Strontium isotopes of apatite are well known to retain petrogenetic information and have been widely used to investigate the origin of igneous rocks, but such attempts have rarely been made to constrain ore-forming processes of hydrothermal systems. We here report in situ LA-MC-ICPMS Sr isotope data of apatite from the ~1660-Ma Yinachang Fe-Cu-REE deposit, Southwest China. The formation of this deposit was coeval to the emplacement of regionally distributed doleritic intrusions within a continental-rift setting. The deposit has a paragenetic sequence consisting of sodic alteration (stage I), magnetite mineralization (stage II), Cu sulfide and REE mineralization (stage III), and final barren calcite veining (stage IV). The stage II and III assemblages contain abundant apatite, allowing to investigate the temporal evolution of the Sr isotopic composition of the ore fluids. Apatite of stage II (Apt II) is associated with fluorite, magnetite, and siderite, whereas apatite from stage III (Apt III) occurs intimately intergrown with ankerite and Cu sulfides. Apt II has 87Sr/86Sr ratios varying from 0.70377 to 0.71074, broadly compatible with the coeval doleritic intrusions (0.70592 to 0.70692), indicating that ore-forming fluids responsible for stage II magnetite mineralization were largely equilibrated with mantle-derived mafic rocks. In contrast, Apt III has distinctly higher 87Sr/86Sr ratios from 0.71021 to 0.72114, which are interpreted to reflect external radiogenic Sr, likely derived from the Paleoproterozoic strata. Some Apt III crystals have undergone extensive metasomatism indicated by abundant monazite inclusions. The metasomatized apatite has much higher 87Sr/86Sr ratios up to 0.73721, which is consistent with bulk-rock Rb-Sr isotope analyses of Cu ores with 87Sr/86Sri from 0.71906 to 0.74632. The elevated 87Sr/86Sr values of metasomatized apatite and bulk Cu ores indicate that later fluids were dominated by highly radiogenic Sr equilibrated with the Paleoproterozoic country rocks. Results of this study highlight the utilization of in situ Sr isotope analysis of apatite in unraveling the evolution of hydrothermal systems.


Apatite In situ Sr isotope analysis LA-MC-ICPMS analysis Yinachang Fe-Cu-REE deposit China 



This study was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (CUG130604), the NSFC project (41472068), CRCG grants of the University of Hong Kong, and research grants of State Key Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry (SKLIG-KF-12-10), and State Key Laboratory for Mineral Deposits Research (20-15-04). We thank Dr. Zhanke Li and Mr. Zhao Bo for their assistance in the field. We are grateful to the editor, Prof. Bernd Lehmann, and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions, which greatly improved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors declare no competing financial interests. No human participants and animals are involved in this research project.

Supplementary material

126_2015_578_Fig10_ESM.gif (190 kb)
Appendix 1

Scan of thin sections of ore samples selected for in situ apatite Sr isotope analysis. Detailed description of each sample is available in the text (GIF 189 kb)

126_2015_578_MOESM1_ESM.tif (8.6 mb)
High resolution (TIFF 8767 kb)
126_2015_578_Fig11_ESM.gif (327 kb)
Appendix 2

Photomicrographs (A and B) and BSE images (C and D) of typical metasomatized Apt III crystals. (A) metasomatized apatite has abundant monazite inclusions suggesting extensive fluid metasomatism; (B) a large metasomatized Apt III crystal associated with ankerite and chalcopyrite gave in situ spot analyses with variable 87Sr/86Sr ratios, indicating variable degree of hydrothermal metasomatism. (C and D) BSE images show that metasomatized apatite typically has numerous tiny inclusions of monazite. The rims of the metasomatized grains have darker color than the cores and have fewer inclusions due to removal of REE elements (GIF 327 kb)

126_2015_578_MOESM2_ESM.tif (12.7 mb)
High resolution (TIFF 12956 kb)
126_2015_578_MOESM3_ESM.xls (37 kb)
Appendix 3 In situ LA-MC-ICPMS Sr isotope data of apatite from the Yinachang deposit, Southwest China (XLS 37 kb)
126_2015_578_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (9 kb)
Appendix 4 ID-TIMS Rb-Sr isotope composition of Cu-REE ores with abundant metasomatized Apt III (XLSX 9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xin-Fu Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mei-Fu Zhou
    • 3
  • Jian-Feng Gao
    • 4
  • Xiao-Chun Li
    • 3
  • Jian-Wei Li
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, and Faculty of Earth ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of GeochemistryChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory for Mineral Deposits ResearchNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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