Abstract

The Jinding deposit in the Lanping basin, southwest China, is the largest sandstone-hosted Zn deposit in the world and the second largest Zn-Pb deposit in China. However, questions related to the metal compositions and origin of the ore fluids remain. In this study, microthermometry and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasmamass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) were employed to determine the properties and compositions of individual fluid inclusions trapped in sphalerite and calcite. The results show that the fluid inclusions trapped in sphalerite and calcite have similar homogenization temperatures (79°–173°C with the majority 100°–130°C), salinities (10.3–29.1 wt % NaCl + CaCl2 equiv with the majority 24.5–27.4 wt % NaCl + CaCl2 equiv), and concentrations of alkali and alkali earth elements (e.g., Na, Ca, Mg, K, Sr, Ba, Li, Rb, and Cs). However, the concentrations of ore and associated metals (e.g., Pb, Sb, Ag, and Tl) in the fluid inclusions hosted by sphalerite are significantly higher than those hosted by calcite. Based on these observations, we propose that the sulfides including sphalerite were precipitated from a low-temperature, high-salinity, Ca-rich, metal-rich fluid, while the gangue minerals such as calcite crystallized subsequently from fluids depleted in metals due to prior precipitation of sulfides, and that the high salinities of the fluid inclusions are likely due to a combination of seawater evaporation and subsequent dissolution of evaporitic sequences during fluid percolation. The LA-ICP-MS analyses reveal that the fluid inclusions have K/Na, Rb/Na, and Cs/Na ratios within the range of modern basinal brines, and Li/Na, Ba/Na, and Ca/Na ratios share similar compositions with the ore fluids of basement interacted deposits in the world. The Jinding ore fluids contain ~200 to 650 ppm Pb, based on the data of fluid inclusions trapped in sphalerite. The estimated concentrations of Zn in the ore fluids are also very high at ~200 to 6,500 ppm. Our results reveal that anomalously metal rich fluids played a critical role in the formation of the giant Jinding sediment-hosted Pb-Zn deposit. We concur with the previous suggestion that sulfide precipitation at Jinding occurred when ascending metal-rich brines encountered an H2S-rich, Ca-rich fluid, which was produced by interaction of hydrocarbons with evaporites, in the cap of the Jinding dome.

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