Iron mineralization at the Songhu deposit, Chinese Western Tianshan: a type locality with regional metallogenic implications
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Hosted by volcaniclastics of the Carboniferous Dahalajunshan Formation, the Songhu iron deposit is located in the central segment of the Awulale metallogenic belt, Chinese Western Tianshan. Mineralization and alteration are structurally controlled by orogen-parallel NWW-striking faults. Integrating with mineralogical and stable isotopic analyses based on paragenetic relationships, two types of iron mineralization have been identified. The deuteric mineralization (Type I) represented by brecciated, banded, and disseminated-vein ores juxtaposed with potassic–calcic alteration in the inner zone, which was formed from a magmatic fluid generated during the late stages of regional volcanism. In contrast, the volcanic-hydrothermal mineralization (Type II) is characterized by hydrothermal features occurring in massive and agglomerated ores with abundant sulfides, and was generated from the magmatic fluid with seawater contamination. Two volcaniclastic samples from the hanging and footwall of the main orebody yield zircon U–Pb ages of 327.8 ± 3.1 and 332.0 ± 2.0 Ma, respectively, which indicate Middle Carboniferous volcanism. Timing for iron mineralization can be broadly placed in the same epoch. By reviewing geological, mineralogical, and geochemical features of the primary iron deposits in the Awulale metallogenic belt, we propose that the two types of iron mineralization in the Songhu iron deposit are representative regionally. A summary of available geochronological data reveals Middle–Late Carboniferous polycyclic ore-related volcanism, and nearly contemporaneous iron mineralization along the belt. Furthermore, petro-geochemistry of volcanic–volcaniclastic host rocks indicates that partial melting of a metasomatized mantle wedge under a continental arc setting could have triggered the continuous volcanic activities and associated metallogenesis.
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