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Many Lower Paleozoic limestones and dolostones in the Valley and Ridge province of the central and southern Appalachians contain 10 to 25 weight percent authigenic potassium feldspar. This was considered to be a product of early diagenesis, however, 40Ar 39Ar analyses of overgrowths on detrital K-feldspar in Cambrian carbonate rocks from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Tennessee yield Late Carboniferous-Early Permian ages (278-322 Ma). Simple mass balance calculations suggest that the feldspar could not have formed isochemically, but required the flux of multiple pore volumes of fluid through the rocks, reflecting regional fluid migration events during the Late-Paleozoic Alleghanian orogeny. Microthermometric measurements of fluid inclusions in overgrowths on detrital K-feldspar and quartz grains from unmineralized rocks throughout the study area indicate homogenization temperatures from 100?? to 200??C and freezing point depressions of -14?? to -18.5??C (18-21 wt.% NaCl equiv). The apparent similarity of these fluids to fluid inclusions in ore and gangue minerals of nearby Mississippi Valley-type (MVT) deposits suggests that the regional occurrences of authigenic K-feldspar and MVT mineralization may be genetically related. This hypothesis is supported by the discovery of authigenic K-feldspar intergrown with sphalerite in several mines of the Mascot-Jefferson City District, E. Tennessee. Regional potassic alteration in unmineralized carbonate rocks and localized occurrences of MVT mineralization are both explainable by a gravity-driven flow model, in which deep brines migrate towards the basin margin under a hydraulic gradient established during the Alleghanian orogeny. The authigenic K-feldspar may reflect the loss of K during disequilibrium cooling of the ascending brines. MVT deposits are probably localized manifestations of the same migrating fluids, occurring where the necessary physical and chemical traps are present. ?? 1987.
Additional Publication Details
Evidence for Late-Paleozoic brine migration in Cambrian carbonate rocks of the central and southern Appalachians: Implications for Mississippi Valley-type sulfide mineralization