Abstract

Mantle-derived carbonatites are igneous rocks dominated by carbonate minerals. Intrusive carbonatites typically contain calcite and, less commonly, dolomite and siderite as the only carbonate minerals. In contrast, lavas erupted by the only active carbonatite volcano on Earth, Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania, are enriched in Na-rich carbonate phenocrysts (nyerereite and gregoryite) and Na-K halides in the groundmass. The apparent paradox between the compositions of intrusive and extrusive carbonatites has not been satisfactorily resolved. This study records the fortuitous preservation of halite in the intrusive dolomitic carbonatite of the St.-Honoré carbonatite complex (Québec, Canada), more than 490 m below the present surface. Halite occurs intergrown with, and included in, magmatic minerals typical of intrusive carbonatites; i.e., dolomite, calcite, apatite, rare earth element fluorocarbonates, pyrochlore, fluorite, and phlogopite. Halite is also a major daughter phase of melt inclusions hosted in early magmatic minerals, apatite and pyrochlore. The carbon isotope composition of dolomite (δ13C = −5.2‰) and Sr-Nd isotope compositions of individual minerals (87Sr/86Sri = 0.70287 in apatite, to 0.70443 in halite; εNd = +3.2 to +4.0) indicate a mantle origin for the St.-Honoré carbonatite parental melt. More radiogenic Sr compositions of dolomite and dolomite-hosted halite and heavy oxygen isotope composition of dolomite (δ18O = +23‰) suggest their formation at some time after magma emplacement by recrystallization of original magmatic components in the presence of ambient fluids. Our observations indicate that water-soluble chloride minerals, common in the modern natrocarbonatite lavas, can be significant but ephemeral components of intrusive carbonatite complexes. We therefore infer that the parental magmas that produce primary carbonatite melts might be enriched in Na and Cl. This conclusion affects existing models for mantle source compositions, melting scenarios, temperature, rheological properties, and crystallization path of carbonatite melts.

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