Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 113, Issue 5, pp 563–581 | Cite as

Paragenesis and composition of xenotime-(Y) and florencite-(Ce) from unconformity-related heavy rare earth element mineralization of northern Western Australia

  • Teimoor Nazari-Dehkordi
  • Carl SpandlerEmail author
Original Paper


This study investigates the paragenesis and ore mineral composition of xenotime [(Y,HREE)PO4] and florencite [LREEAl3(PO4)2(OH)6] from heavy rare earth element (HREE) deposits/prospects of the Tanami and Hall Creek regions of Western Australia. Two stages of xenotime-(Y) formation are recognized: (1) early xenotime-(Y) in breccias (breccia-hosted) and in quartz-xenotime-(Y) veins (vein-type); and (2) late xenotime-(Y) that occurs largely as dipyramidal-shaped overgrowths on the pre-existing early xenotime-(Y). Similarly, florencite-(Ce) formed in two stages including: (1) early florencite-(Ce) that coexists with and is enclosed by early xenotime-(Y) within mineralized veins; and (2) late florencite-(Ce) that replaces early xenotime-(Y), or appears as narrow rims on early florencite-(Ce). All xenotime-(Y) types from a number of examined HREE deposits/prospects are characterized by elevated U contents and marked negative Eu anomalies that we interpret to be inherited from the metasedimentary rocks from which REE and P required for the phosphate ore mineralization, were sourced. Compared to the early xenotime-(Y), the late xenotime-(Y) is richer in HREE and depleted in P, owing to the formation of the coexisting late florencite-(Ce). Moreover, early florencite-(Ce) has a near end-member florencite (s.s.) composition similar to those associated with unconformity-related U deposits, whereas late florencite-(Ce) sits on the florencite-svanbergite compositional spectrum. The high U content of xenotime-(Y) and composition of early florencite-(Ce) potentially support a genetic association between the HREE mineralization and the coeval unconformity-related U deposits of northern Australia. Nevertheless, we also urge for caution in using xenotime-(Y) composition in isolation as an indicator of geological setting.


Xenotime Florencite Aluminum-phosphate-sulfate minerals Hydrothermal Unconformity Tanami region 



Special thanks to Robin Wilson for helping with field work and sample collection, and to Nicholas Oliver for numerous discussions on structural and geological evolution of the Browns Range. We also acknowledge Lutz Nasdala for editorial handling, and Ray Macdonald, Sam Broom-Fendley and Zdeněk Losos for their insightful comments. This work was financially and logistically supported by Northern Minerals Ltd., and by an ARC Future Fellowship (FT 120100198) to CS.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economic Geology Research CentreJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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