Abstract The Bayan Obo deposit in China hosts the largest REE resource in the world. However, the genesis of this deposit is still highly debated, largely due to a lack of consensus on the mineralization age. The Banyan Obo deposit has experienced intensive post-ore metamorphic and metasomatic overprints, so it is crucial to choose robust chronometers to determine the primary mineralization age. In this study, zircon is identified in the REE ore of the Bayan Obo deposit. The zircon grains are in contact with or contain inclusions of hydrothermal minerals (e.g., magnetite, biotite, monazite, allanite, apatite and ilmenorutile). They have variable Th contents (14 to 1139 ppm) and are poor in U ( Thorium-lead dating was also conducted on monazite from the zircon-bearing sample, yielding 208Pb-232Th ages (993 to 319 Ma) variably younger than that of zircon. The younger monazite Th-Pb ages could have resulted from disturbance of the Th-Pb isotopic system during post-ore modification process. Similarly, monazite has younger Th-U-Pb dates than zircon in many other geologically-complicated carbonatites or REE deposits. Such a phenomenon implies that the zircon Th-U-Pb chronometer is robust even if the host-rocks have experienced intensive modification, whereas monazite Th-U-Pb chronometer is more susceptible to modification. Therefore, younger Th-U-Pb dates of monazite should be interpreted with caution as they may record the timing of post-ore modification event or represent partial resetting, and hence geologically meaningless results.
Xiaochun Li, H. Fan, Xi Zeng
Ore Geology Reviews