Terrane and basement discrimination in northern Britain using sulphur isotopes and mineralogy of ore deposits
D. Lowry, A. J. Boyce, A. E. Fallick, W. E. Stephens, N. V. Grassineau, 2005. "Terrane and basement discrimination in northern Britain using sulphur isotopes and mineralogy of ore deposits", Mineral Deposits and Earth Evolution, I. McDonald, A. J. Boyce, I. B. Butler, R. J. Herrington, D. A. Polya
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This study of four well characterized and adjacent terranes in Northern Britain outlines the sulphur isotope variations, assesses the overall importance of crustal and mantle sulphur, and presents a model that can be applied to terrane distinction throughout the North Atlantic Caledonides. The characteristics of metal components within the mineralization provide additional information that can be related to the nature of underlying basement and events from the onset of sedimentation to the cessation of mineralization within stratigraphically linked packages of rock.
The δ34S data show that the dominant crustal units in each terrane, whether upper crustal sediments or cratonic basement, provide the main alternative sulphur source to the mantle and act also as the main contaminant of subcrustal melts. The δ34S values of granitoid-related mineralization are either within the subcrustal melt-range of −3‰ to +3‰ or deviate toward the values of major crustal units in the terrane, i.e. toward 34S depletion in the Southern Uplands and toward 34S enrichment in the Lakesman and Grampian terranes. More complex mineralization in the Northern Highland terrane is linked to the presence of thick North Atlantic craton beneath upper crustal metasediments. Across the region the vein systems beyond the influence of magmatic components represent homogenized sulphur, metals and fluids from local upper crustal units. The sulphur isotope data and style of mineralization for the British terranes are compared with terranes of similar age along strike in Eastern Canada revealing notable correlations.
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Mineral Deposits and Earth Evolution
Mineral deposits are not only primary sources of wealth generation, but also act as windows through which to view the evolution and interrelationships of the Earth system.
Deposits formed throughout the last 3.8 billion years of the Earth’s history preserve key evidence with which to test fundamental questions about the evolution of the Earth. These include: the nature of early magmatic and tectonic processes, supercontinent reconstructions, the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere with time, and the emergence and development of life. The interlinking processes that form mineral deposits have always sat at the heart of the Earth system and the potential for using deposits as tools to understand that evolving system over geological time is increasingly recognized. This volume contains research aimed both at understanding the origins of mineral deposits and at using mineral deposits as tools to explore different long-term Earth processes.