Ten sphalerite separates isolated from mineralized samples in proximal and distal positions relative to the proposed main feeder fault systems at the Laisvall deposit were used to obtain an absolute age determination of this world-class Pb-Zn deposit hosted by autochthonous Ediacaran to Lower Cambrian sandstone and located currently along the erosional front of the Scandinavian Caledonides in northern Sweden. Residue and leachate fractions of each separate were obtained using the crush-leaching technique. All samples correspond to sphalerite formed using reduced sulfur derived from thermochemical sulfate reduction, three of them from disseminated ore in the Lower Sandstone, two from the disseminated ore in the Upper Sandstone, and five from steeply dipping galena-sphalerite-calcite veinlets interpreted in previous works as remobilization of disseminated ores. The isotope dilution-thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS) data yield an overall complex Rb-Sr isotope pattern with two distinct trends in the 87Sr/86Sr vs. 87Rb/86Sr isochron diagram. The three sphalerite residues of disseminated mineralization from the Lower Sandstone orebody show Rb-Sr isotope systematics indicative of undisturbed primary precipitates, and yield an isochron model age of 467 ± 5 Ma (mean square weighted deviation, MSWD, 1.4). Since the isochron is based on three points, the obtained age is to be considered as preliminary. Yet, the obtained age is fully consistent with geologic evidence reported by previous authors and pointing to Middle Ordovician timing of ore formation.

The ID-TIMS data were complemented by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) analyses on the same sphalerite samples. The data support the hypothesis that the measured ID-TIMS Rb and Sr contents in these sphalerite residues are held in the sphalerite structure itself and are not related to micro-inclusions. The most viable hypothesis, in agreement with published work, is that during rapid growth, sphalerite may incorporate Rb and Sr ions from the hydrothermal fluids in its structure, most probably in octahedral voids.

By contrast, the second trend in the 87Sr/86Sr vs. 87Rb/86Sr space defined by most other sphalerite residues and corresponding inclusion fluid leachates from the Upper Sandstone orebody and the veinlet samples is too steep to account for a realistic isochron age determination. This steep linear trend is interpreted to represent a postmineralization disturbance involving fluids rich in Sr. This disturbance of the Rb-Sr isotope system is consistent with the presence of the steeply dipping galena-sphalerite-calcite veinlets and the fact that the Upper Sandstone is, in places, tectonically disrupted because of its proximity to the basal Caledonian décollement. The attempt to date the Granberget deposit, located in tectonically disrupted allochthonous units inside the Caledonian orogen, failed because the Rb-Sr isotope systematics of the three analyzed sphalerite samples are also disturbed.

The obtained Middle Ordovician (467 ± 5 Ma) mineralization age at Laisvall can be interpreted as a far-field foreland response to an early Caledonian arc-continent collision and the subsequent development of a foreland basin. Basinal brines formed in the foredeep of the orogen could be conveyed cratonward, interact with permeable Baltica crystalline basement rocks, and resurge as metal-bearing fluids in sandstone at Laisvall along reactivated Paleoproterozoic crystalline basement faults. Mixing of metal-bearing brines with hydrocarbon and H2S-rich fluids in Ediacaran to Lower Cambrian sandstone may explain the initial Sr isotope signature (87Sr/86Sr = 0.715900 ± 60) of the isochron intersect.

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