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Journal Article

Hosts of Sn in reduced deep-seated W skarn systems: A case study on the world-class scheelite skarn deposit, Zhuxi, South China


Song,  Shiwei
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Mao,  Jingwen
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Romer,  R. L.
3.1 Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry, 3.0 Geochemistry, Departments, GFZ Publication Database, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

Jian,  Wei
External Organizations;

Ouyang,  Yongpeng
External Organizations;

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Song, S., Mao, J., Romer, R. L., Jian, W., Ouyang, Y. (2024 online): Hosts of Sn in reduced deep-seated W skarn systems: A case study on the world-class scheelite skarn deposit, Zhuxi, South China. - Mineralium Deposita.

Cite as: https://gfzpublic.gfz-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_5026293
Tin (Sn) and tungsten (W) behave incompatibly in reduced magmatic systems and may become enriched in late highly-evolved melts. Nonetheless, Sn and W rarely concentrate in the same deposit. In deposits formed by Sn- and W-bearing granites, this separation may be due to the contrasting behavior of Sn and W during exsolution of a magmatic fluid or the scavenging of Sn by silicate minerals. We illustrate the separation of Sn and W for the world-class Zhuxi W skarn deposit (South China). Although tin orebodies have not yet been identified within the Zhuxi deposit, tiny (commonly < 20 μm) cassiterite grains are widespread within the endoskarn and the retrogressed exoskarn. We analyzed the W and Sn contents of the magmatic minerals biotite and ilmenite in ore-forming granites and the prograde anhydrous skarn minerals garnet, pyroxene and vesuvianite. Our data show that (i) magmatic ilmenite (65.5–79.1 ppm Sn; 8.7–14.3 ppm W) and biotite (109–120 ppm Sn; 1.3–6.3 ppm W) from biotite monzogranite strongly enrich Sn relative to W, implying that W partitioned more strongly into the magmatic fluids than Sn, (ii) there is 100 Kt non-recoverable Sn within the Zhuxi deposit in addition to the certified 3.44 Mt WO3 reserves, and (iii) W is mainly hosted in scheelite, whereas Sn is dominantly sequestered in prograde skarn minerals, most importantly garnet (76–4086 ppm Sn, < 42 ppm W), pyroxene (3–103 ppm Sn, < 1 ppm W), and vesuvianite (43–361 ppm Sn, < 2 ppm W). The formation of secondary cassiterite requires the release of silicate-bound Sn by alteration of primary skarn minerals, which depends on the availability of magmatic or metamorphic fluids. Deep-seated granites such as those associated with the Zhuxi skarn deposit, which crystallized at 5 km to 12.6 km depth, do not release or mobilize copious amounts of fluid. Therefore, the Zhuxi deposit, like other deep-seated reduced skarn systems shows little alteration and most Sn remains in silicate minerals and is economically non-recoverable. Thus, reduced, deep-seated W skarn systems are unlikely to have associated Sn orebodies even if significant amounts of Sn are present.