Trace element changes in fluids associated with ore-forming events in sedimentary basins may be recorded by contemporaneous cements, especially zoned carbonate minerals (microstratigraphy). Cement analysis using advanced mapping and analytical techniques including scanning electron microscopy cathodoluminescence (SEM-CL), charge contrast imaging, high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (XCT), and laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) documents geochemical changes associated with Mississippi Valley–type mineralization in solution-collapse breccias of the Cambrian–Ordovician Knox Group (Tennessee and Kentucky, USA). Dolomite cement zonation coincident with changes in Fe and Mn can be observed with optical microscope CL in bands as narrow as 5 µm, whereas panchromatic SEM-CL reveals microfractures and cement subzones coincident with changes in La and Ce concentrations in bands as narrow as 0.1 µm. XCT scans image a high-density (Fe-rich) dolomite zone at the onset of late sulfide precipitation. The transition from pre-ore to ore-stage cementation is marked by increased Fe, Mn, Zn, Cd, Ga, Pb, and Sr and decreased La and Ce concentrations. Fine-scale metal depletion cycles during this transition may record metal precipitation from brine in response to the availability of reduced sulfur. Except for Fe and Mn, post-ore dolomite zones generally have low metal concentrations. Thus, dolomite microstratigraphy tracks systematic changes in brine metal concentrations modified by episodes of localized sulfide mineral precipitation.

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