Journal of the Geological Society of India

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 305–312 | Cite as

In-situ Determination of Trace Element and REE Partitioning in a Natural Apatite-Carbonatite Melt System using Synchrotron XRF Microprobe Analysis

  • Helmut SchleicherEmail author
Research Articles


Inclusions of calcite within large euhedral apatite crystals from the pyroxenite-carbonatite-syenite complex of Sevattur, Tamil Nadu, south India, were identified to represent inclusions of a primary carbonatitic melt (calcite I) from which the apatites have crystallized. The apatites themselves are embedded into a younger batch of calcite-carbonatitic melt (calcite II).

Using the synchrotron XRF microprobe at beamline L at HASYLAB/DESY (Hamburg), the concentrations of the trace elements Ba, Sr, Y, Zr, Th, La, Ce, Nd, Sm, Gd, Dy, and Er were determined both in melt inclusions as well as in host apatites and younger carbonatite matrix. Unexpected high REE concentrations were found not only in apatite but also in calcite, especially of the younger matrix phase, in agreement with the whole rock geochemistry. The data reveal an equilibrium distribution between melt inclusions and host apatite that allows the calculation of partition coefficients D = CiAp/CiCc=melt for elements of interest.

Assuming 9% crystallization of the melt, which can be calculated from the whole rock analyses, the composition of the primary carbonatite melt prior to apatite crystallization can be determined. This composition is, with the exception of only few elements, nearly equal to that of the younger matrix carbonatite melt (calcite II), and thus gives evidence for the existence of different pulses of carbonatite melt during crystallization and consolidation of the carbonatite body.

The results allow new insights into the processes of trace element and REE distribution between the two major igneous components of carbonatites and thus into the question of carbonatitic fractionation processes. The data reveal that mere apatite crystallization and fractionation does not lead to enriched REE compositions during carbonatite evolution but lowers their concentrations in the residual melts. But alternatively, if segregated apatite is collected and incorporated by a new melt batch, the overall REE of this melt will be increased.


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© Geological Society of India 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mineralogisch-Petrographisches Institut UniversitätHamburgGermany

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