A precise 232Th-208Pb chronology of fine-grained monazite: Age of the Bayan Obo REE-Fe-Nb ore deposit, China

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

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We have obtained precise Th-Pb internal isochron ages on monazite and bastnaesite for the world's largest known rare earth elements (REE)-Fe-Nb ore deposit, the Bayan Obo of Inner Mongolia, China. The monazite samples, collected from the carbonate-hosted ore zone, contain extremely small amounts of uranium (less than 10 ppm) but up to 0.7% ThO2. Previous estimates of the age of mineralization ranged from 1.8 to 0.255 Ga. Magnetic fractions of monazite and bastnaesite samples (<60-??m size) showed large ranges in 232Th 204Pb values (900-400,000) and provided precise Th-Pb internal isochron ages for paragenetic monazite mineralization ranging from 555 to 398 Ma within a few percent error (0.8% for two samples). These results are the first indication that REE mineralization within the giant Bayan Obo ore deposit occurred over a long period of time. The initial lead isotopic compositions (low 206Pb 204Pb and high 208Pb 204Pb) and large negative ??{lunate}Nd values for Bayan Obo ore minerals indicate that the main source(s) for the ores was the lower crust which was depleted in uranium, but enriched in thorium and light rare earth elements for a long period of time. Zircon from a quartz monzonite, located 50 km south of the ore complex and thought to be related to Caledonian subduction, gave an age of 451 Ma, within the range of monazite ages. Textural relations together with the mineral ages favor an epigenetic rather than a syngenetic origin for the orebodies. REE mineralization started around 555 Ma (disseminated monazite in the West, the Main, and south of the East Orebody), but the main mineralization (banded ores) was related to the Caledonian subduction event ca. 474-400 Ma. ?? 1994.

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A precise 232Th-208Pb chronology of fine-grained monazite: Age of the Bayan Obo REE-Fe-Nb ore deposit, China
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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
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