Fractionation of Li, Be, Ga, Nb, Ta, In, Sn, Sb, W and Bi in the peraluminous Early Permian Variscan granites of the Cornubian Batholith: precursor processes to magmatic-hydrothermal mineralisation
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The Early Permian Variscan Cornubian Batholith is a peraluminous, composite pluton intruded into Devonian and Carboniferous metamorphosed sedimentary and volcanic rocks. Within the batholith there are: G1 (two-mica), G2 (muscovite), G3 (biotite), G4 (tourmaline) and G5 (topaz) granites. G1-G2 and G3-G4 are derived from greywacke sources and linked through fractionation of assemblages dominated by feldspars and biotite, with minor mantle involvement in G3. G5 formed though flux-induced biotite-dominate melting in the lower crust during granulite facies metamorphism. Fractionation enriched G2 granites in Li (average 315 ppm), Be (12 ppm), Ta (4.4 ppm), In (74 ppb), Sn (18 ppm) and W (12 ppm) relative to crustal abundances and G1 granites. Gallium (24 ppm), Nb (16 ppm) and Bi (0.46 ppm) are not significantly enriched during fractionation, implying they are more compatible in the fractionating assemblage. Sb (0.16 ppm) is depleted in G1-G2 relative to the average upper and lower continental crust. Muscovite, a late-stage magmatic/subsolidus mineral, is the major host of Li, Nb, In, Sn and W in G2 granites. G2 granites are spatially associated with W-Sn greisen mineralisation. Fractionation within the younger G3-G4 granite system enriched Li (average 364 ppm), Ga (28 ppm), In (80 ppb), Sn (14 ppm), Nb (27 ppm), Ta (4.6 ppm), W (6.3 ppm) and Bi (0.61 ppm) in the G4 granites with retention of Be in G3 granites due to partitioning of Be into cordierite during fractionation. The distribution of Nb and Ta is controlled by accessory phases such as rutile within the G4 granites, facilitated by high F and lowering the melt temperature, leading to disseminated Nb and Ta mineralisation. Lithium, In, Sn and W are hosted in biotite micas which may prove favourable for breakdown on ingress of hydrothermal fluids. Higher degrees of scattering on trace element plots may be attributable to fluid–rock interactions or variability within the magma chamber. The G3-G4 system is more boron-rich, evidenced by a higher modal abundance of tourmaline. In this system, there is a stronger increase of Sn compared to G1-G2 granites, implying Sn in tourmaline-dominated mineral lodes may represent exsolution from G4 granites. G1-G4 granite abundances can be accounted for by 20–30% partial melting and 10–40% fractionation of a greywacke source. G5 granites are analogues of Rare Metal Granites described in France and Germany. These granites are enriched in Li (average 1363 ppm), Ga (38 ppm), Sn (21 ppm), W (24 ppm), Nb (52 ppm) and Ta (15 ppm). Within G5 granites, the metals partition into accessory minerals such as rutile, columbite-tantalite and cassiterite, forming disseminated magmatic mineralisation. High observed concentrations of Li, In, Sn, W, Nb and Ta in G4 and G5 granites are likely facilitated by high F, Li and P, which lower melt temperature and promote retention of these elements in the melt, prior to crystallisation of disseminated magmatic mineralisation.
This study was supported by the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund as part of the convergence funding for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly supporting a PhD for BS (Combined Universities in Cornwall project number11200NCO5) and the European Union (Horizon 2020 project 641650 FAME). The LA-ICP-MS work was supported by a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, NE/L001896/1). The Cornwall Heritage Trust are thanked for providing additional funds for analysis. The Natural History Museum, London, UK are thanked for loan of samples from collection BM.2004,P14, specimen numbers 1, 7, 8, 10, 21, 23, 24, 30 and 31 and thin sections P11849, P11851, P11864, P12400 and P12399. Samples GG6, GG15, GG28, and GG44 from the study of Darbyshire and Shepherd (1994) came from Peter Floyd, University of Keele. Steve Pendray, Sharon Uren and Joe Pickles assisted with the sample preparation and analysis at Camborne School of Mines. Sam Hammond assisted with LA-ICP-MS analysis at the Open University. De Lank, Carnsew and Castle-an-Dinas quarries, Richard Scrivener, Nick LeBoutillier and Ben Thompson (Imerys) are thanked for help with sampling. Karel Breiter and one anonymous reviewer are thanked for their generous and constructive comments which have helped to improve the manuscript.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Available online 16 February 2017