Formation of the world's largest REE deposit through protracted fluxing of carbonatite by subduction-derived fluids

Ming Xing Ling, Yu Long Liu, Ian S. Williams, Fang Zhen Teng, Xiao Yong Yang, Xing Ding, Gang Jian Wei, Lu Hua Xie, Wen Feng Deng, Wei Dong Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    751 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Rare Earth Elements (REE) are essential to modern society but the origins of many large REE deposits remain unclear. The U-Th-Pb ages, chemical compositions and C, O and Mg isotopic compositions of Bayan Obo, the world's largest REE deposit, indicate a protracted mineralisation history with unusual chemical and isotopic features. Coexisting calcite and dolomite are in O isotope disequilibrium; some calcitic carbonatite samples show highly varied δ26Mg which increases with increasing Si and Mg; and ankerite crystals show decreases in Fe and REE from rim to centre, with highly varied REE patterns. These and many other observations are consistent with an unusual mineralisation process not previously considered; protracted fluxing of calcitic carbonatite by subduction-released high-Si fluids during the closure of the Palaeo-Asian Ocean. The fluids leached Fe and Mg from the mantle wedge and scavenged REE, Nb and Th from carbonatite, forming the deposit through metasomatism of overlying sedimentary carbonate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1776
    JournalScientific Reports
    Volume3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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