Abstract

Measurements on fluid inclusions in hydrothermal dolomite cements place constraints on sulfide precipitation mechanisms and on the thermal-hydrologic processes which formed the Viburnum Trend Mississippi Valley-type lead district. Homogenization temperatures and freezing point depressions were determined for fluid inclusions in Bonneterre Dolomite-hosted dolomite cements in mine samples, as well as drill core from up to 13 km outside of the district. A well-defined cathodoluminescent zonation distinguishes dolomite growth zones in the Vi-burnurn Trend as older or younger than main-stage mineralization (octahedral galena) and facilitates correlation with other dolomites outside the Viburnum Trend.Homogenization temperatures and salinities in samples from mines are not systematically different from those of samples outside of the district. Medians of homogenization temperature distributions differ by not more than 25 degrees C, so that a temperature gradient, if present, should not have exceeded approximately 25 degrees C within the study area. These observations are interpreted to indicate that the Viburnum Trend was not strongly thermally anomalous with respect to surrounding country rock and that fluid flow occurred on a broad scale through not only the Lamotte Sandstone but through the overlying Cambrian carbonates as well.The absence of a significant, recognizable decrease in temperature either vertically within the section or east-west across the district, coupled with the minor amount of silica in the district, argues against cooling as a primary cause of sulfide precipitation. Fluids whose primary aquifer was the Lamotte Sandstone, predominantly a quartz arenite, should have been in equilibrium with quartz. Quartz in the Viburnum Trend occurs as a minor, drusy, vug-lining phase, but the district lacks the intense silicification found in other Mississippi Valley-type districts such as Tri-State (Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri). Quartz solubility is strongly temperature dependent and, under equilibrium conditions, a decrease of 10 degrees C or more should have precipitated at least as many moles of silica as galena (assuming a galena solubility of between 1 and 10 ppm). Clearly this is not the case, as galena is far more abundant than quartz in the Viburnum Trend.Ice final-melting temperatures (T m ) in fluid inclusions generally range from -14 degrees to -27 degrees C for primary dolomite-hosted inclusions. Using these T m values and cation ratios for the inclusion fluids, absolute concentrations for the individual cations and chloride were calculated using the thermochemical model of Spencer et al. (1990). The corresponding high but variable salinities, 3.9 to 5.9 chloride molality, are evidence for the presence of more than one distinct fluid during mineralization.In a reduced sulfur mineralization model with Pb carried as chloride complexes, dilution is also a possible sulfide precipitation mechanism. The difference in Pb solubility (for an equal quantity of reduced sulfur) in the extremes of the chloride concentration range, 3.9 vs. 5.9 molal, reaches 1 ppm only for pH values below approximately 4.5. Accepting 1 ppm as a minimum metal concentration for a viable ore-forming fluid, dilution only appears capable of precipitating sulfides in a fluid with pH near the lower limit of values considered geologically reasonable or attainable.Dolomite cements hosting warm (approximately 105 degrees -125 degrees C) saline fluid inclusions are ubiquitous in the porous dolomitic facies of the Bonneterre Dolomite. Based on stratigraphic reconstructions, however, it is unlikely that the Bonneterre was buried deeper than 1.5 km. The distribution of warm inclusions beyond the Viburnum Trend district implies that fluid migration was regional in scale. Fluid inclusion temperatures inconsistent with typical basement heat-flow-controlled geothermal gradients (25 degrees -35 degrees C/km) may be explained by long-distance migration of warm, basin-derived brines. Elevated temperatures observed in fluid inclusions at shallow stratigraphic depths are consistent with a gravity flow hydrologic system characterized by rapid flow rates and the capacity for advective heat transport.

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