Abstract

Gem minerals at Lava Plains, northeast Queensland, offer further insights into mantle-crustal gem-formation under young basalt fields. Combined mineralogy, U-Pb age determination, oxygen isotope and petrological data on megacrysts and meta-aluminosilicate xenoliths establish a geochemical evolution in sapphire, zircon formation between 5 to 2 Ma. Sapphire megacrysts with magmatic signatures (Fe/Mg ~100–1000, Ga/Mg 3–18) grew with ~3 Ma micro-zircons of both mantle (δ18O 4.5–5.6‰) and crustal (δ18O 9.5–10.1‰) affinities. Zircon megacrysts (3±1 Ma) show mantle and crustal characteristics, but most grew at crustal temperatures (600–800°C). Xenolith studies suggest hydrous silicate melts and fluids initiated from amphibolized mantle infiltrated into kyanite+sapphire granulitic crust (800°C, 0.7 GPa). This metasomatized the sapphire (Fe/Mg ~50–120, Ga/Mg ~3–11), left relict metastable sillimanite-corundum-quartz and produced minerals enriched in high field strength, large ion lithophile and rare earth elements. The gem suite suggests a syenitic parentage before its basaltic transport. Geographical trace-element typing of the sapphire megacrysts against other eastern Australian sapphires suggests a phonolitic involvement.

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