Characteristics of Pegmatite Deposits of Tantalum

  • P. Černý
Part of the Special Publication No. 7 of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits book series (MINERAL DEPOS., volume 7)

Abstract

Within the broad spectrum of granitic pegmatites, economic tantalum concentrations are encountered only in those of the orogen-related rare-element class. These are located in Archean greenstone and gneissic belts, Proterozoic terranes skirting cratonic margins and Phanerozoic orogenic belts. Fertile granites generating the rare-element pegmatites are largely late to post-tectonic, post-dating the peak of regional dynamometamorphism. The granite-pegmatite systems are largely confined to deep faults, pre-existing batholithic contacts or lithologic boundaries; they are located in host rocks of the upper-greenschist and lower-amphibolite facies of Abukuma-type terranes.

Tantalum-enriched pegmatites are found in the intermediate to outermost parts of zoned pegmatite aureoles surrounding parental granites. Such pegmatites may belong to the (i) beryl, (ii) complex (spodumene, petalite or amblygonite), (iii) complex (lepidolite), (iv) albite-spodumene or (v) albite types and (subtypes). Type (i) grades into (ii) by increasing complexity of internal zoning, replacement phenomena, mineral paragenesis and geochemical fractionation, the latter including a progressive decrease in Nb/Ta. Tantalum mineralization may be confined to the core-margin assemblage in (i), but it is more commonly enriched in albitic units, greisenlike muscovitic assemblages and lepidolite units, all of them in the internal parts of the pegmatite bodies. Tantalum-bearing minerals are represented mainly by the ferromanganoan oxide species and the members of the broader microlite family, in contrast to the lepidolite subtype (iii) with abundant microlite and only minor manganocolumbite. High grades and variable tonnages of tantalum ore are typical of type (ii) deposits, particularly those containing lepidolite and pollucite.

In contrast to the zoned and/or layered types (i) to (iii), the other two pegmatite types are nearly homogeneous in texture and composition, and they contain the tantalum mineralization dispersed through most of their volumes. Low grades but large tonnages of tantalum reserves may be encountered particularly in type (iv).

Generalized characteristics of the different types of tantalum-bearing pegmatites are complemented by brief descriptions of some better-known specific examples.

Keywords

Crystallization Quartz Zircon Lithium Boron 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Černý
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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