Abstract

Pyrochlore group minerals have the general formula A16−xB16O48Z8−y·nH2O, with A mainly Na, Ca, Sr, REE, Th, U; B mainly Nb, Ta, Ti and Z being O, F, OH. In this study, pyrochlore specimens were examined from carbonatites at Argor, Carillon Dam, Chilwa Island, Fen, Lueshe, Oka, Mbeya, Meech Lake and Verity. Primary features include a background with little compositional variation, from core to rim, upon which are commonly superimposed narrow oscillatory zones, parallel to {111}. These zones are usually characterized by high Ta, in many cases coupled with U (here Argor, Meech Lake and Verity specimens), but Chilwa Island and Fen pyrochlores have little Ta and zonation is mainly by enrichment in Ce and Nb. Primary zonation may persist through high-temperature metamorphism (Meech Lake and Verity) and metamictization (Meech Lake). Oscillatory zones were generated by a disequilibrium system that cooled under tranquil conditions, signalling absence of magma turbulence and, in many cases, the end of crystal growth. Some fresh crystals (Oka, Fen) have no oscillatory zones, possibly the product of magma turbulence in space or time. Low-temperature effects may mimic those of primary high temperature and are especially characterized by replacement rims, pyrochlore-in-pyrochlore veinlets and low A-ion totals (Carillon Dam, Lueshe, Myeba).

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