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Characterization and origin of low-T willemite (Zn2SiO4) mineralization: the case of the Bou Arhous deposit (High Atlas, Morocco)

Abstract : Willemite (Zn2SiO4) usually reported in hypogene non-sulfide deposits is described as the main ore mineral in the carbonate-hosted Bou Arhous zinc deposit. This deposit is located in the High Atlas intracontinental range that formed during the Tertiary. Based on a set of microscopic observations, it was possible to establish that willemite replaces primary sphalerite. On the basis of cathodoluminescence imaging, three successive generations of willemite are distinguished, with evidence of dissolution–reprecipitation processes. Willemite is also variably enriched in Ge (up to 1000 ppm), while Ge contents lower than 100 ppm are reported in the primary sulfide minerals. Depending on the willemite generation, this substitution was positively or negatively correlated to the Zn-Pb substitution. According to the nature of zoning (sector versus oscillatory), the incorporation of Ge was either controlled by crystallographic factors or by the nature of the mineralizing fluids. Willemite is associated with other oxidation-related mineral species, like cerussite (PbCO3) but is not in isotopic equilibrium and therefore not considered to be cogenetic. Oxygen isotope compositions support the formation of willemite at temperatures below 130 °C, from mixed meteoric and deeper, hydrothermal fluids. The formation of the High Atlas Belt during the Tertiary has contributed to the exhumation of the sulfide minerals and the development of vertical conduits for percolation of meteoric water and ascending hydrothermal fluids. In addition to a local contribution of silicate minerals of the host limestone, hydrothermal fluids probably transported Si and Ge that are incorporated in willemite.
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Submitted on : Friday, October 2, 2020 - 7:32:47 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 1, 2022 - 8:44:06 AM
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Flavien Choulet, Luc Barbanson, Martine Buatier, Richard James, Torsten Vennemann, et al.. Characterization and origin of low-T willemite (Zn2SiO4) mineralization: the case of the Bou Arhous deposit (High Atlas, Morocco). Mineralium Deposita, Spinger, 2017, 52, pp.1085-1102. ⟨10.1007/s00126-016-0675-7⟩. ⟨insu-01366479⟩



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