Origin of unusual HREE-Mo-rich carbonatites in the Qinling orogen, China

Song Wenlei, Xu Cheng, Martin Smith, Jindrich Kynicky, Huang Kangjun, Wei Chunwan, Zhou Li, Shu Qihai

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Carbonatites, usually occurring within intra-continental rift-related settings, have strong light rare earth element (LREE) enrichment; they rarely contain economic heavy REE (HREE). Here, we report the identification of Late Triassic HREE-Mo-rich carbonatites in the northernmost Qinling orogen. The rocks contain abundant primary HREE minerals and molybdenite. Calcite-hosted fluid inclusions, inferred to represent a magmatic-derived aqueous fluid phase, contain significant concentrations of Mo (~17 ppm), reinforcing the inference that these carbonatitic magmas had high Mo concentrations. By contrast, Late Triassic carbonatites in southernmost Qinling have economic LREE concentrations, but are depleted in HREE and Mo. Both of these carbonatite types have lowδ26Mg values (−1.89 to −1.07‰), similar to sedimentary carbonates, suggesting a recycled sediment contribution for REE enrichment in their mantle sources. We propose that the carbonatites in the Qinling orogen were formed, at least in part, by the melting of a subducted carbonate-bearing slab, and that 10 Ma younger carbonatite magmas in the northernmost Qinling metasomatized the thickened eclogitic lower crust to produce high levels of HREE and Mo.
Original languageEnglish
Article number37377
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2016

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