Abstract

Textural and compositional data for magnetite from nine iron skarn deposits in Canada, Romania, and China show that most samples have reequilibrated by dissolution and reprecipitation, oxy-exsolution, and/or recrystallization. The dissolution and reprecipitation processes are most extensive and are present in most magnetite samples examined, whereas the oxy-exsolution occurs only in high-Ti magnetite, forming exsolution lamellae of Fe-Ti-Al oxides. Electron microprobe analysis indicates that the reequilibration processes have significantly modified the minor and trace element compositions of magnetite, notably Si, Mg, Ca, Al, Mn, and Ti, whereas oxy-exsolution is effective in decreasing the Ti content of high-Ti magnetite. Many analyses of magnetite grains from the skarn deposits plot variably in the banded iron formations (BIF), iron oxide–copper-gold (IOCG), or porphyry Cu fields using the Ti + V versus Ca + Al + Mn discrimination diagram. This pattern suggests that trace element data for magnetite that has unusual composition and/or reequilibrated cannot be reliably used as a petrogenetic indicator. Mixing of externally derived saline fluids with Fe-rich magmatic-hydrothermal solutions, an increase in temperature, and local decreasing pressure and fO2 are considered the most important causes for the dissolution and reprecipitation, or recrystallization, of the magnetite; increasing fO2 and decreasing temperature may facilitate oxy-exsolution of Fe-Ti-Al oxides in high-Ti magnetite. Results presented here highlight the importance of detailed textural characterization prior to in situ chemical analysis of magnetite grains so that mineral compositions can be properly evaluated in terms of the genesis and evolution of iron skarn deposits.

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