Abstract

Tourmaline is a widespread mineral in the Mesoproterozoic Blackbird Co–Cu–Au–Bi–Y–REE district, Idaho, where it occurs in both mineralized zones and wallrocks. We report here major-element and B-isotope compositions of tourmaline from stratabound sulfide deposits and their metasedimentary wallrocks, from mineralized and barren pipes of tourmaline breccia, from late barren quartz veins, and from Mesoproterozoic granite. The tourmalines are aluminous, intermediate in the schorl–dravite series, with Fe/(Fe + Mg) values of 0.30 to 0.85, and 10 to 50% X-site vacancies. Compositional zoning is prominent only in tourmaline from breccias and quartz veins; crystal rims are enriched in Mg, Ca and Ti, and depleted in Fe and Al relative to cores. The chemical composition of tourmaline does not correlate with the presence or absence of mineralization. The δ11B values fall into two groups. Isotopically light tourmaline (−21.7 to −7.6‰) occurs in unmineralized samples from wallrocks, late quartz veins and Mesoproterozoic granite, whereas heavy tourmaline (−6.9 to +3.2‰) is spatially associated with mineralization (stratabound and breccia-hosted), and is also found in barren breccia. At an inferred temperature of 300°C, boron in the hydrothermal fluid associated with mineralization had δ11B values of −3 to +7‰. The high end of this range indicates a marine source of the boron. A likely scenario involves leaching of boron principally from marine carbonate beds or B-bearing evaporites in Mesoproterozoic strata of the region. The δ11B values of the isotopically light tourmaline in the sulfide deposits are attributed to recrystallization during Cretaceous metamorphism, superimposed on a light boron component derived from footwall siliciclastic sediments (e.g., marine clays) during Mesoproterozoic mineralization, and possibly a minor component of light boron from a magmatic–hydrothermal fluid. The metal association of Bi–Be–Y–REE in the Blackbird ores suggests some magmatic input, but involvement of granite-derived fluids cannot be conclusively established from the present database.

You do not currently have access to this article.