Ore-formation at the Halasheng Ag-Pb-Zn deposit, northeast Inner Mongolia as revealed by trace-element and sulfur isotope compositions of ore-related sulfides

Ri Han, Ke Zhang Qin, David I. Groves, Kai Xuan Hui, Zhen Zhen Li, Xin Yu Zou, Guang Ming Li, Shi Qiang Su

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The Early Cretaceous Halasheng Ag-Pb-Zn deposit in NE China, which is mainly hosted in Jurassic rhyolitic tuff, andesite, and volcanoclastic rocks, comprises both proximal skarns and more distal hydrothermal discordant ore veins and stockworks with associated Fe-Mn-carbonate, illite, and silica alteration in NNW-trending extensional faults. Suggestions of a magmatic-hydrothermal relationship are tested by LA-ICP-MS trace-element and sulfur isotope studies of ore minerals, particularly sphalerite which is a major ore mineral. Sphalerite has at least three types: SpS, anhedral, mainly dark red sphalerite in skarns; Sp1, euhedral, normally pale yellow coarse-grained, and rarely oscillatory zoned sphalerite formed in Stage 2 of hydrothermal vein mineralization; and Sp2, fine-grained, red, non-zoned sphalerite formed in Stage 3 of hydrothermal mineralization. Sphalerite with different textures has As, Ag, Cd, Sb, and Pb contents that increase from proximal skarn to distal hydrothermal mineralization consistent with the increase in sulfosalt minerals in the late hydrothermal stage. In situ time-resolved depth profiles, together with tangential profiles, and LA-ICP-MS element mapping of sphalerite indicate that trace elements are largely in solid solution in Halasheng sphalerite with substitution mechanisms including: Zn2+ ↔ Fe2+, Cd2+, Mn2+, and 3Zn2+↔ (As3+, Sb3+) + Ag++Pb2+. Enrichment of In and Sn, and depletion of Ga and Ge, together with In/Sn ratios indicate the high-temperature ore-forming fluids at Halasheng that are most likely closely related to intrusions. In situ mean δ34S values of SpS, Sp1, and Sp2 sphalerites are 5.3‰, 7.6‰, and 8.3‰, respectively, indicating that sulfur was derived both from magmatic-hydrothermal fluids and from wall rocks with higher (>10‰) values. These data help confirm that the Halasheng Ag-Pb-Zn deposit is an intrusion-related deposit with local proximal skarn mineralization at the contact of Tamulangou Formation andesite with Ergunahe Formation crystalline limestone, and more distal vein-type volcanic-hosted hydrothermal mineralization, with both ore and gangue mineral assemblages and available fluid inclusion data suggesting an intermediate-sulfidation epithermal association. As ore-forming hydrothermal fluids cooled and evolved they became enriched in silver, with silver-bearing sulfosalt minerals and silver-rich sphalerite precipitated in the latter stages of deposition. In terms of future exploration, there is potential for the concealed Lower Cretaceous Pb-Zn skarns and intermediate sulfidation Ag-Pb-Zn epithermal deposits at Halasheng to be part of a larger porphyry-related mineral system with porphyry Cu-Au-Mo deposits, similar to those of Middle Triassic to Early Jurassic age in the same metallogenic belt, at deeper crustal levels than the known deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104853
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


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