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Late-Variscan antimony mineralisation in the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge, NW Germany: evidence for stibnite precipitation by drastic cooling of high-temperature fluid systems


Antimony-rich vein mineralisation is widespread in the German part of the Variscan orogenic belt. Mineralogical investigation of a representative suite of these deposits, coupled with fluid inclusion characterisation and microthermometry, permits a reconstruction of their genetic evolution. Two structural settings host antimony mineralisation: the cores or flanks of anticlinal zones and major lithological contrasts. Channelled migration of geothermal fluids through permeable rock sequences and later stagnation of fluids in cap-rock situations inside the anticlinal zones led to mineral deposition. The mineralising event is interpreted as relating to input of deep-sourced fluids during late-orogenic exhumation at the transitional stage between collision tectonics and the late-Variscan extensional regime. Fluid inclusion data, chlorite geothermometry and the presence of meneghinite as a characteristic Pb-Sb-sulfosalt mineral in a number of vein systems allows constraints on model P-T conditions at the onset of mineralisation to be made. These are as high as 390 to 440 °C at 0.6–1.0 kbar for the Saarsegen, Apollo and Schöne Freundschaft deposits, with lower temperatures of 320–340 °C being obtained for the Spes deposit. The fluid inclusion data indicate drastic fluid cooling during the mineralising event; minimum temperatures of approximately 150–220 °C are obtained for all deposits at the end of vein quartz formation, which coincided with deposition of stibnite and most of the Pb-Sb sulfosalts. Besides the formation of extensional quartz-stibnite-Pb-sulfosalt veins, the mineralising, low-salinity NaCl-KCl-rich high-temperature tectonic brines have overprinted sulfide assemblages within earlier siderite-(Cu)-Pb-Zn veins. This has led to replacement reaction textures and remobilisation of sulfide components within the vein systems. In contrast with the earlier siderite-(Cu)-Pb-Zn veins, neither the quartz-stibnite-sulfosalt nor the (Cu)-Pb-Sb sulfosalt assemblages were affected by Variscan deformation. Rather, they display characteristic extensional features crosscutting all earlier structures and can thus be assigned to a later phase of mineralisation. Fluid composition characteristics and structural criteria indicate formation in the latest part of the Variscan mineralisation cycle; a post-Variscan genesis being rejected on grounds of conspicuously diverging fluid characteristics. A comparison of antimony deposits in the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge with other late-orogenic deposits elsewhere in the European Variscan belt indicates a significant number of shared features, enabling them to be placed into a common model related to the onset of late-Variscan brittle extensional tectonics.

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Received: 14 September 1998 / Accepted: 18 August 1999

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Wagner, T., Cook, N. Late-Variscan antimony mineralisation in the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge, NW Germany: evidence for stibnite precipitation by drastic cooling of high-temperature fluid systems. Mineral. Deposita 35, 206–222 (2000).

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  • Fluid Inclusion
  • Vein System
  • Geothermal Fluid
  • Fluid Inclusion Data
  • Variscan Belt