In situ LA–ICP–MS trace element analyses of magnetite: genetic implications for the Zhonggu orefield, Ningwu volcanic basin, Anhui Province, China

Abstract

The Zhonggu orefield is located within the southern Ningwu volcanic basin and is one of the largest iron ore districts within the Middle–Lower Yangtze River Metallogenic Belt (MLYRMB) of eastern China. The area hosts the Gushan iron oxide–apatite (IOA) deposit and the Baixiangshan, Longshan, Hemushan, Zhongjiu, and Taipingshan skarn-type iron deposits. Here, we employ laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA–ICP–MS) to determine trace element concentrations in magnetite from these deposits. Combining these new data with geological information from these deposits indicates that the iron ore within the Gushan deposit has V and Ti compositions that are strongly suggestive of a Kiruna-type IOA origin. Specifically, the V and Ti chemistry of magnetite in iron ore breccias from the Gushan deposit suggests that this style of mineralization formed at a high temperature and as a result of magmatic magnetite precipitation. This was followed by precipitation of lower temperature magmatic–hydrothermal massive magnetite. Both types of magnetite host exsolved ilmenite. Elemental mapping also indicates that Gushan breccia-hosted magnetite records hydrothermal fluid activity that formed late-stage vein mineralization. In comparison, other deposits within the Zhonggu orefield all contain magnetite with compositions that are indicative of skarn mineralization. This implies that these deposits formed as a result of magmatic–hydrothermal rather than purely magmatic or purely hydrothermal activity, contrasting with the Gushan deposit. Finally, the geochemistry of magnetite within thick anhydrite units in the Longshan deposit indicates the formation by low-temperature sedimentary processes, and this magnetite was subsequently overprinted as a result of hydrothermal activity during the formation of the main Longshan deposit. Overall, this study indicates that the IOA, skarn-type, and sedimentary anhydrite-type iron mineralization in the Zhonggu iron ore field record evolving metallogenic processes from initially orthomagmatic mineralizing systems to high- to moderate-temperature magmatic–hydrothermal systems and finally to low-temperature hydrothermal mineralization.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Georges Beaudoin and Jim Mungall for editorial handling and Adam Simon and two anonymous reviewers for the thorough and constructive reviews that helped to improve our manuscript.

Funding

This research was financially supported by funds from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFC0600209), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, the China Academy of Science ‘Light of West China’ Program, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41820104007, 41320104003, 41672069, 41702353). The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from China Scholarship Council.

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Sun, W., Yuan, F., Jowitt, S.M. et al. In situ LA–ICP–MS trace element analyses of magnetite: genetic implications for the Zhonggu orefield, Ningwu volcanic basin, Anhui Province, China. Miner Deposita 54, 1243–1264 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-019-00872-w

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Keywords

  • Zhonggu orefield
  • LA–ICP–MS
  • Trace elements
  • Kiruna
  • Iron oxide–apatite
  • Skarn