Comparative Fluid Inclusion Chemistry of Miarolitic Pegmatites from San Diego County, California, USA

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
David Nymberg and Mona-Liza C Sirbescu, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI, United States
Miarolitic Li-Cs-Ta pegmatites are an important source of gemstones such as tourmaline var. elbaite and spodumene var. kunzite, but the distribution of gem-bearing pegmatites within a pegmatite field is not understood. This microthermometry, LA-ICP-MS, Raman spectroscopy, and crush-leach study of fluid inclusions in pegmatite quartz aims to discern the chemical variations of late-stage pegmatite fluids in relation to gem mineralization. We studied five mines from three San Diego Co. districts: Chihuahua Valley (C), Jacumba (J), and Pala (P). The ~100 Ma old, 1-10 m thick, subparallel magma sheets intruded plutons of the Peninsular Ranges Batholith or prebatholitic metasediments at an estimated pressure of 200-300 MPa. The pegmatites formed sequentially, from outer zones with comb, layered, and graphic quartz-feldspar textures at the magmatic stage to massive cores and miarolitic pockets at a late, fluid-saturated stage. Pocket quartz was analyzed from pegmatites of variable host rock, magmatic mineral assemblages, and known gem production.

The inclusions contained two-phase aqueous fluids and no CO2 or other gases. Fluid salinity ranged from 0.5 to 8.6 wt.% NaCl eq. and correlated positively with inclusion homogenization temperature. Isochoric T at 250 MPa calculated for primary and pseudosecondary inclusions in pocket quartz ranged from 280 to 500 °C in district P, 310-420°C in J, and 230-290°C in C. We attribute the higher T of pocket formation in districts P and J to higher surrounding T at emplacement caused by proximity to other dikes.

This preliminary study suggests that gem elbaite and/or kunzite occurrence correlates to Li and B contents in the pocket fluid, which, in turn, are a function of consumption by early, magmatic minerals. The P district has a simple leucogranite mineralogy at the magmatic stage; has as much as 5760 ppm B and 4950 ppm Li in the pocket fluid; and produced both elbaite and kunzite. The J district has abundant magmatic tourmaline; has only 3800 ppm B but up to 4700 ppm Li in the fluid; and produced only kunzite. The C district has no tourmaline in the outer zones; widely variable B and Li; and produced sporadic elbaite but no kunzite. In addition, variations in fluid chemistry and productivity along dike strike in district J is attributed to a change from gabbroic to metasedimentary host rocks.