Abstract

Metal evolution in a composite granitic pluton was tracked by analyzing melt inclusions in 11 quartz samples from 7 zones at the Timbarra gold deposit, Australia. We present the first quantitative microanalyses of gold (Au) in granitic silicate melt inclusions using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass–spectrometry and show how Au and other metals become enriched during fractional crystallization in a granite intrusion. Au was enriched during fractionation from a monzogranite to a highly fractionated alkali-feldspar granite. Similar enrichment behavior for other metals implies that no gold-enriched precursor melt is required and fractional crystallization can enrich the Au concentration to economic levels. The low content of accessory oxides and sulfides, the absence of early Cl-bearing fluids, the volatile content in the melt, and a prolonged crystallization constitute important factors for extensive metal enrichment during crystal fractionation. These characteristics play a crucial role in felsic, highly fractionated plutons and their associated deposits such as intrusion-related Au deposits. The gold enrichment during fractionation also implies that Au is directly sourced from the granites.

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