Abstract

We propose that many igneous-related Fe oxide–rich (REE-Cu-Au-U–bearing) deposits form by hydrothermal processes involving evaporitic ligand sources, either coeval salars or older evaporites. These deposits are abundant in both Phanerozoic and Proterozoic extensional continental and continent-margin settings. They commonly form in global arid zones, but they also occur where magmatism is superimposed upon older evaporites. Magmatic compositions exert only second-order control, mainly on alteration mineralogy and on element abundances. Hot S-poor brines generated by interaction with evaporitic materials are consistent with geologic settings and help rationalize the distinctive element enrichments (siderophile, lithophile) and hydrothermal alteration (sodic, locally alkaline) found in these systems. This model contrasts with immiscible oxide melt and magmatic-hydrothermal origins commonly proposed for these deposits, although all three mechanisms can occur.

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