Abstract

40 Ar/ 39 Ar age spectrum dates for 13 muscovites have been used to reconstruct the thermal history (thermochronology) of the Panasqueira, Portugal, tin-tungsten deposit, a deposit spatially associated with a belt of Hercynian plutons. Muscovite samples with an age difference as small as 2.2 m.y. (0.7% of the age) are statistically distinct. Statistics are even better for comparison of multiple samples from separate events; that is, a difference of 0.9 m.y. (0.3%) can be resolved in this approximately 300-m.y.-old deposit. The major tin and tungsten ore-forming stages, which are the oxide-silicate stage, the main sulfide stage, and greisenization, occurred between 296.3 + or - 0.8 (1 Sigma ) and 291.6 + or - 0.8 m.y. (1 Sigma ). The first substage of the oxide-silicate stage was a short-lived thermal pulse at 296.3 + or - 0.6 m.y.; the fluids responsible may have emanated from the known granite cupola. The main sulfide stage was active at 294.5 + or - 0.9 m.y. as a slightly longer lived pulse with oldest evidence for this stage (295.8 + or - 0.6 m.y.) coming from areas farthest away from the known cupola and youngest evidence (293.5 + or - 0.8 m.y.) closest to the cupola. A second substage of the oxide-silicate stage occurred as a short-lived thermal pulse at 292.9 + or - 0.7 m.y., synchronous with greisenization of the cupola and alteration of the silica cap at 292.1 + or - 0.4 m.y. The duration of activity of the oxide-silicate stage, the main sulfide stage, greisenization, and alteration of the silica cap based on the ages of all 13 muscovites was greater than 4.2 + or - 0.5 m.y. (1 Sigma ). Minor argon loss from all dated muscovites occurred during later reheating, probably during the longer lived pyrrhotite alteration stage. A single center, the known cupola, had a prolonged role and was the source for main sulfide stage, oxide-silicate stage II, greisenization, and alteration of the silica cap and possibly oxide-silicate stage I and the pyrrhotite alteration stage; however, a separate source for these latter two stages cannot be ruled out.This study is an example of a new and powerful application of 40 Ar/ 39 Ar age spectrum dating of muscovite. Because of the high precision demonstrated in this study, it is now possible to establish time constraints necessary for solving some of the long-standing problems in economic geology. Beyond this, the unique geologic situation of Panasqueira has allowed us to quantify the thermal characteristics of muscovite. Published fluid inclusion data have been used to estimate a muscovite argon closure temperature of approximately 325 degrees C during rapid cooling or short reheating and a temperature of approximately 270 degrees C during slow cooling or extended reheating. Argon-loss patterns displayed by all dated muscovites resulted from reheating after original closure; the mechanism for this argon loss appears to have been argon transport by volume diffusion. Thus, 40 Ar/ 39 Ar age spectrum dating of muscovite can be used to evaluate thermal conditions controlling argon diffusion as well as age, duration, and number of episodes of mineralization.

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