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Ankerite carbonatite from Swartbooisdrif, Namibia : the first evidence for magmatic ferrocarbonatite.

Thompson, R. N. and Smith, P. M. and Gibson, S. A. and Mattey, D. P. and Dickin, A. P. (2002) 'Ankerite carbonatite from Swartbooisdrif, Namibia : the first evidence for magmatic ferrocarbonatite.', Contributions to mineralogy and petrology., 146 (3). pp. 377-395.


Although general accounts of carbonatites usually envisage Ca-Mg carbonate melts evolving by fractional crystallisation to Fe-rich residua, there is longstanding concern that ferrocarbonatites may actually be products of hydrothermal rather than magmatic processes. All previously published examples of ankerite- and/or siderite-carbonatites fail to show one or more of the isotopic criteria (all determined on the same sample) thought to be diagnostic of crystallised magmatic carbonate liquids. Ferrocarbonatite dykes cut Archaean-Proterozoic basement at Swartbooisdrif, adjacent to the NW Namibia-Angola border. Their age is uncertain but probably ~1,100 Ma and their associated fenites are rich in sodalite. Where unaffected by subsequent recrystallisation, their petrographic textures resemble those of silicate layered intrusions; ankerite, magnetite and occasionally calcite are cumulus phases, joined by trace amounts of intercumulus pyrochlore. Ankerite is zoned, from Ca(Mg, Fe2+)(CO3)2 cores towards ferroan dolomite rims. Calcite contains ~1.7% SrO, plus abundant, tiny exsolved strontianite grains. Magnetite is close to pure Fe3O4. Pyrochlore has fine-scale euhedral oscillatory zoning and light-REE-enriched rims. ICP-MS analysis of magnetite and pyrochlore from the carbonatite allows calculation of their modal amounts from mass-balance considerations. Sodalite from the fenite is REE poor. Geothermometry, using either the calcite-dolomite solvus or oxygen isotope fractionation between calcite and magnetite, gives temperatures in the range 420-460 °C. Initial Sr, Nd and Pb isotopic ratios of the ferrocarbonatites (87Sr/86Sr=0.7033; )Nd=0.2-1.0; 206Pb/204Pb=16.37; 207Pb/204Pb=15.42; 208Pb/204Pb=36.01) are appropriate for an ~1,100-Ma magmatic carbonatite. Likewise, carbonate '18O=8.0 and '13C=-7.36 indicate little or no subsequent shift from magmatic values. It appears that dense ankerite and magnetite dominated crystal accumulation from a melt saturated in these phases, plus calcite and pyrochlore, with prior fractionation of a silicate mineral and apatite. The resulting ferrocarbonatite lacks a silicate mineral (excluding fenite xenocrysts) and apatite. It has unusually low (basalt-like) REE abundances and (La/Lu)n, and low concentrations of Ba, Rb, U, Th, Nb, Ta, Zr and Hf. Very high Nb/Ta and low Zr/Hf imply that the evolution of the parental magma involved immiscible separation of a carbonate from a silicate melt. The sodalite-dominated Swartbooisdrif fenites suggest that the parental melt also had a substantial Na content, in contrast with the ferrocarbonatite rock.

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Record Created:16 Feb 2007
Last Modified:08 Apr 2009 16:27

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