Vein fluorite U-Pb dating demonstrates post-6.2 ma rare-earth element mobilization associated with Rio Grande rifting

Gavin Piccione, E. Troy Rasbury, Brent A. Elliott, J. Richard Kyle, Steven J. Jaret, Alvin S. Acerbo, Antonio Lanzirotti, Paul Northrup, Kathleen Wooton, Randall Parrish

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Numerous studies have documented rare-earth element (REE) mobility in hydrothermal and metamorphic fluids, but the processes and timing of REE mobility are rarely well constrained. The Round Top laccolith in the Trans-Pecos magmatic province of west Texas, a REE ore prospect, has crosscutting fractures filled with fluorite and calcite along with a variety of unusual minerals. Most notably among these is an yttrium and heavy rare-earth element (YHREE) carbonate mineral, which is hypothesized to be lokkaite based on elemental analyses. While the Round Top laccolith is dated to 36.2 ± 0.6 Ma based on K/Ar in biotite, U-Pb fluorite and nacrite ages presented here clearly show the mineralization in these veins is younger than 6.2 ± 0.4 Ma (the age of the oldest fluorite). This discrepancy in dates suggests that fluids interacted with the laccolith to mobilize REE more than 30 m.y. after igneous emplacement. The timing of observed REE mobilization overlaps with Rio Grande rift extension, and we suggest that F-bearing fluids associated with extension may be responsible for initial mobilization. A later generation of fluids was able to dissolve fluorite, and we hypothesize this later history involved sulfuric acid. Synchrotron spectroscopy and laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) U-Pb dating of minerals that record these fluids offer tremendous potential for a more fundamental understanding of processes that are important not only for REE but other ore deposits as well.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1958-1972
Number of pages15
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2019


  • absolute age
  • calcite
  • carbonates
  • Cenozoic
  • clay minerals
  • fluorides
  • fluorite
  • halides
  • igneous rocks
  • metal ores
  • mineral deposits, genesis
  • nacrite
  • North America
  • rare earth deposits
  • Rio Grande Rift
  • sheet silicates
  • Sierra Blanca
  • silicates
  • Texas
  • Trans-Pecos
  • U/Pb
  • United States
  • volcanic rocks
  • West Texas
  • RCUK
  • NERC


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