Tiny Molybdenites Tell Diffusion Tales
Abstract:Diffusion invokes micron-scale exchange during crystal growth and dissolution in magma chambers on short time-scales. Fundamental to interpreting such data are assumptions on magma-fluid dynamics at all scales. Nevertheless, elemental diffusion profiles are used to estimate time scales for magma storage, eruption, and recharge.
An underutilized timepiece to evaluate diffusion and 3D mobility of magmatic fluids is high-precision Re-Os dating of molybdenite. With spatially unique molybdenite samples from a young ore system (e.g., 1 Ma) and a double Os spike, analytical errors of 1-3 ka unambiguously separate events in time. Re-Os ages show that hydrous shallow magma chambers locally recharge and expel Cu-Mo-Au-silica as superimposed stockwork vein networks at time scales less than a few thousand years . Re-Os ages provide diffusion rates controlled by a dynamic crystal mush, accumulation and expulsion of metalliferous fluid, and magma reorganization after explosive crystallization events.
Importantly, this approach has broad application far from ore deposits. Here, we use Re-Os dating of molybdenite to assess time scales for generating and diffusing metals through the deep crust. To maximize opportunity for chemical diffusion, we use a continental-scale Sveconorwegian mylonite zone for the study area.
A geologically constrained suite of molybdenite samples was acquired from quarry exposures. Molybdenite, previously unreported, is extremely scarce. Tiny but telling molybdenites include samples from like occurrences to assure geologic accuracy in Re-Os ages. Ages range from mid-Mesoproterozoic to mid-Neoproterozoic, and correspond to early metamorphic dehydration of a regionally widespread biotite-rich gneiss, localized melting of gneiss to form cm-m-scale K-feldspar ± quartz pods, development of vapor-rich, vuggy mm stringers that serve as volatile collection surfaces in felsic leucosomes, and low-angle (relative to foliation) cross-cutting cm-scale quartz veins. Re-Os ages and detailed geologic observation document a 200 m.y. history of metal liberation and diffusion through oxidation.
 Stein, H.J. (2014) Dating and Tracing the History of Ore Formation, in Holland, H.D. & Turekian, K.K. (eds) Treatise on Geochemistry, 2nd Ed. 13: 87-118, Oxford: Elsevier.