SIMS Investigations on Growth and Sector Zoning in Natural Hydrothermal Quartz: Isotopic and Trace Element Analyses

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Eric May1, Torsten W Vennemann1, Lukas P Baumgartner1 and Nicolas Meisser2, (1)University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, (2)Museum of Geology, Lausanne, Switzerland
Quartz is the most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust and is found in virtually every geological context. Despite its ubiquity and the detailed studies on the conditions of quartz crystallization, some questions concerning its growth and sector zoning with regard to trace element incorporation and oxygen isotope fractionations and the implications thereof for interpretations on the conditions of formation remain (e.g., Jourdan et al., 2009). This study presents new in-situ measurements of trace element and oxygen isotope ratios on natural hydrothermal quartz from an extensional gold-bearing quartz vein in the western Swiss Alps. The temperature of formation of the veins is estimated by quartz-hematite oxygen isotope thermometry to be about 360°C. A detailed SEM-CL study of this sample shows cyclic lamellar growth, alternating with phases of dissolution that are directly followed by macro-mosaic growth of the quartz, before returning to a cyclic lamellar growth again.

Trace element concentrations (measured for Na, K, Li, Al, and Ti) notably showed Al/Si variations of three orders of magnitude and coupled Al and Li variations, likely substituting for Si in different growth zones with lower values in macro-mosaic zones precipitating after the period of dissolution. The oxygen isotope composition of the crystal, in contrast, is homogeneous through all growth zones (δ18O values between 15.6‰ and 16.2‰) indicating that the fluid must have been buffered by the host-rock and/or the source of the fluid remained the same despite the period of quartz dissolution. Furthermore, the temperature during crystallization of the quartz crystal has likely also remained similar. The fact that no variations are measured in oxygen isotope compositions but some variations in trace element contents may suggest that changes in pressure were important during the formation of this quartz crystal. Give the pressure effects on the solubility of quartz (Fournier and Potter, 1982), both the cyclic character of quartz growth and perhaps also the changes in Al/Si may be related to pressure variations caused by seismic activity during retrograde Alpine metamorphism.

A-L. Jourdan et al. (2009) Mineralogical Magazine, 73, 615-632.

R.O. Fournier and R.W. Potter (1982) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 46, 1969-1973.