Carbonatites are rare igneous carbonate-rich rocks. Most carbonatites contain a large number of accessory oxide, sulfide, and silicate minerals. Baddeleyite (ZrO2) and zircon (ZrSiO4) are common accessory minerals in carbonatites and because these minerals host high concentrations of U and Th, they are often used to determine the ages of formation of the carbonatite. In an experimental study, we constrain the stability fields of baddeleyite and zircon in Ca-rich carbonate melts with different silica concentrations. Our results show that SiO2-free and low silica carbonate melts crystallize baddeleyite, whereas zircon only crystallizes in melts with higher concentration of SiO2. We also find that the zirconsilicate baghdadite (Ca3ZrSi2O9) crystallizes in intermediate compositions. Our experiments indicate that zircon may not be a primary mineral in a low-silica carbonatite melt and care must be taken when interpreting zircon ages from low-silica carbonatite rocks.

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