Abstract

Pyrochlore-group minerals are common accessory rare-metal bearing minerals in the calcite and ankerite carbonatites of the Amba Dongar complex (India). Pyrochlore from the Amba Dongar carbonatites differs from that in other Indian complexes in Ta, Zr, Ti, rare earth element (REE) and Pb contents, but is similar with respect to Ca, Ba and Sr abundances. The evolution of pyrochlore composition was studied to understand the alteration processes and the formation of late-stage pyrochlores enriched in REE and Pb. The early magmatic pyrochlore are calcio- and niobium-dominant types and were replaced by secondary cation-deficient varieties as a consequence of the action of hydrothermal fluids and supergene weathering. These processes produce changes mainly at the A site, rarely at the B site, and the original F is replaced by OH groups. Calcium and Na can be extracted from the structure at the alteration stage and charge balance is achieved by the introduction of REE, Th, U, Ba or Sr. At the latest supergene stages, marginal and fractured zones of pyrochlore grains are altered to Pb-rich, Si-rich and cation-deficient hydrated varieties. The magmatic pyrochlore was crystallised in a highly alkaline environment at a high activity of Ca and at temperatures near 600°C, the alteration of pyrochlore began in a hydrothermal environment at temperatures below 350°C. The major compositional changes that are associated with the alteration are summarised by the following reactions: Ca2+ + Nb5+REE3+ + Ti4+; Nb5+ + Fe3+ → Ti4+ + Zr4+; and 2Nb5+ + Ca2+ → Ti4+ + Si4+ + U4+.

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