Abstract

The Neoproterozoic Lofdal alkaline carbonatite complex consists of a swarm of carbonatite dykes and two plugs of calcite carbonatite known as the ‘Main’ and ‘Emanya’ carbonatite intrusions, with associated dykes and plugs of phonolite, syenite, rare gabbro, anorthosite and quartz-feldspar porphyry. In the unaltered Main Intrusion calcite carbonatite the principal rare-earth host is burbankite. As burbankite typically forms in a magmatic environment, close to the carbohydrothermal transition, this has considerable petrogenetic significance. Compositional and textural features of Lofdal calcite carbonatites indicate that burbankite formed syngenetically with the host calcite at the magmatic stage of carbonatite evolution. The early crystallisation of burbankite provides evidence that the carbonatitic magma was enriched in Na, Sr, Ba and light rare earth elements. In common with other carbonatites, the Lofdal burbankite was variably affected by alteration to produce a complex secondary mineral assemblage. Different stages of burbankite alteration are observed, from completely fresh blebs and hexagonal crystals through to complete pseudomorphs, consisting of carbocernaite, ancylite, cordylite, strontianite, celestine, parisite and baryte. Although most research and exploration at Lofdal has focused on xenotime-bearing carbonatite dykes and wall-rock alteration, this complex also contains a more typical calcite carbonatite enriched in light rare earth elements and their alteration products.

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