The Reocín Zn-Pb deposit, 30 km southwest of Santander, Spain, occurs within Lower Cretaceous dolomitized Urgonian limestones on the southern flank of the Santillana syncline. The Reocín deposit is one of the largest known strata-bound, carbonate-hosted, zinc-lead deposits in Europe. The total metal endowment of the deposit, including past production and remaining reserves, is 62 Mt of ore grading 8.7 percent Zn and 1.0 percent Pb. The epigenetic mineralization consists of sphalerite and galena, with lesser marcasite and trace pyrite with dolomite as gangue. Microprobe analyses of different generations of dolomite revealed nonstoichiometric compositions with various amounts of iron (up to 14 mol % of FeCO3). Replacement of host dolomite, open-space filling of fractures, and cementation of breccias derived from dissolution collapse are the principal types of ore occurrence.
Detailed cross-section mapping indicates a stratigraphic and structural control on the deposit. A stratiform morphology is present in the western part of the orebody (Capa Sur), whereas mineralization in the eastern part is highly discordant but strata bound (Barrendera). Stratigraphic studies demonstrate that synsedimentary tectonic activity, related to the rifting of the North Atlantic (Bay of Biscay), was responsible for variation in sedimentation, presence of unconformities (including paleokarsts), local platform emergence and dolomitization along the N60 fault trend.
In the Reocín area, two stages of dolomitization are recognized. The first stage is a pervasive dolomitization of the limestone country rocks that was controlled by faulting and locally affected the upper part of the Aptian and the complete Albian sequence. The second dolomitization event occurred after erosion and was controlled by karstic cavities. This later dolomitization was accompanied by ore deposition and, locally, filling of dolomite sands and clastic sediments in karstic cavities. The circulation of hydrothermal fluids responsible for sulfide deposition and the infilling of karst cavities were broadly contemporaneous, indicating a post-Albian age. Vitrinite reflectance data are consistent with previously measured fluid inclusion temperatures and indicate temperatures of ore deposition that were less than 100°C. Carbon and oxygen isotopic data from samples of regional limestone, host-rock dolostone and ore-stage dolomite suggest an early hydrothermal alteration of limestone to dolostone. This initial dolomitization was followed by a second period of dolomite formation produced by the mixing of basinal metal-rich fluids with local modified seawater. Both dolomitization events occurred under similar conditions from fluids exhibiting characteristics of basinal brines. The δ34S values of sulfides are between –1.8 and +8.5 per mil, which is consistent with thermochemical sulfate reduction involving organic matter as the main source of reduced sulfur. Galena lead isotope compositions are among the most radiogenic values reported for Zn-Pb occurrences in Europe, and they are distinct from values reported for galena from other Basque-Cantabrian deposits. This suggests that a significant part of the lead was scavenged from the local underlying Asturian sediments. The stratigraphic and structural setting, timing of epigenetic mineralization, mineralogy, and isotopic geochemistry of sulfide and gangue minerals of the Reocín deposit are consistent with the features of most of Mississippi Valley-type ore deposits.