Precambrian iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) deposits are generally encountered with multistage hydrothermal overprints and hence have complex isotopic records. Precise dating of ore-forming and overprinting events and assessment of time-resolved metal sources are fundamental for understanding ore genesis. Here, we quantify the evolution history by integrating in situ U-Pb dating of texturally constrained allanite and Sm-Nd isotope data of ores and major rare earth element (REE) minerals in the breccia-hosted Lanniping Fe-Cu deposit in Kangdian region, southwestern China.

The economically mineralized breccia in Lanniping Fe-Cu deposit is characterized by pervasive and texturally destructive replacement of polymictic clasts, including host metasedimentary packages, the intruded dolerite, and pre-ore halokinetic breccia. Ore minerals in cements are mainly composed of magnetite, chalcopyrite, bornite, and variable amounts of REE-rich minerals (e.g., apatite and allanite/epidote). Two types of allanite were identified in ores. Type I prismatic allanite texturally intergrown with magnetite has a SHRIMP U-Pb age of 1728 ± 20 Ma (1σ), which matches a zircon U-Pb age of 1713 ± 14 Ma (2σ) for the dolerite clasts and provides the direct age constraint on the Fe-Cu mineralization event. Type II anhedral allanite shows complex zoning and is spatially associated with, but texturally later than, magnetite, apatite, and chalcopyrite. This type of allanite yields significantly younger SHRIMP dates of 1015 ± 33 (1σ) and 800 ± 16 Ma (1σ) for cores and rims, respectively, which correspond to discrete regional magmatic events and hence record hydrothermal overprint/remobilization events of ore minerals in the deposit.

Integrated Sm-Nd isotope compositions of type I allanite, apatite, and whole ores generally align along the reference Sm-Nd isochron of 1728 Ma, further confirming the primary ore formation at ~1.7 Ga. Corresponding εNd(1728 Ma) values ranging from –2.8 to 0.3 are significantly higher than those of the host metasedimentary rocks (–9.5 to –6.2) but comparable to those of contemporaneous igneous intrusions (–0.3 to 5.3) in the region, demonstrating that REE components of the primary ores were dominantly sourced from rocks of mantle-derived affinity. Both cores and rims of the younger type II allanite grains have Nd isotope compositions consistent with the unique time-evolved line of the ~1.7 Ga ores, implying that REEs incorporated into type II allanite were ultimately sourced from the primary ores in this deposit. The combined texture, chemical, U-Pb, and Sm-Nd isotope data thus demonstrate that REE remobilization was localized during post-ore hydrothermal overprint with negligible external inputs of REEs to the primary ores in the Lanniping deposit.

In this contribution, we not only date primary ore formation but also recognize several younger allanite generations that record internal metal redistributions in response to post-ore tectonothermal events. Our study highlights the potential of ore-associated REE minerals such as allanite for resolving the age of multiple stages of hydrothermal events in complex ore deposits by ion probe, provided that careful examination of textural and paragenetic relationship of ores is conducted. Our finding of these younger allanite generations also exemplifies the significance of evaluation on time-resolved metal input for better characterizing the evolution history of the IOCG deposits.

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