Systematic trends in the substitution mechanisms of minor elements in cassiterite

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A dataset of 4751 EPMA point analyses on cassiterite crystals from 18 localities spanning a range of different granite-related Sn-bearing mineral systems was investigated and compared with thermodynamic considerations from speciation and lattice strain models. The existence of previously inferred charge balanced coupled substitution mechanisms of Fe3+, Fe2+, Mn2+, Nb5+, Ta5+ and W6+ for Sn4+ are confirmed. The homo­valent substitution of Sn4+ by Ti4+ and Zr4+ is also confirmed, and the first evidence for homovalent substitution of Nb4+ and W4+ in natural cassiterite is presented. The preferred substitution mechanisms for Ti, Fe, Mn, Nb, Ta, W and Zr vary systematically as a function of the mineralising environment. Cassiterite precipitated from silicate liquid dominated systems (such as in pegmatites) primarily display a coupled Fe–(Nb,Ta) substitution mechanism with a 1:2 stoichiometry, whereas cassiterite precipitated in systems dominated by autometasomatic processes (such as greisens) more closely follow a 1:1 stoichiometry, as well as increased levels of Ti. Cassiterite precipitated solely from hydrothermal fluids (such as Sn–(W) quartz vein systems) exhibit the highest Ti concentrations, with lower contents of Fe–(Nb,Ta) coupled substitutions, instead displaying a switch to the incorporation of Fe3+ via FeO.OH stoichiometry. Hydrothermally precipitated cassiterite from skarn systems display the highest Fe3+ contents, and the lowest Nb, Ta and Ti contents. These systematic changes define a continuous trend in a Ti–(Fe + Mn)–(Nb,Ta) ternary diagram, allowing for classification of the primary source of alluvial cassiterite.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Apr 2024


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