Metasomatic Vein Formation by Stationary Fluids in Carbonate Xenoliths at the Eastern Margin of the Bergell Intrusion, Val Sissone, Italy


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Metasomatic Vein Formation by Stationary Fluids in Carbonate Xenoliths at the Eastern Margin of the Bergell Intrusion, Val Sissone, Italy
Journal of Petrology
Bégué F, Baumgartner L P, Müller T, Putlitz B, Vennemann T W
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Fluid flow is an important mechanism associated with heat and mass transport within the Earth’s crust. The study of veins, which represent channelling of fluids, can thus be key in understanding these fluid movements, unravelling fluid composition and origin, paleo stress regimes, and the history of the host-rock. New stable isotope data on carbonates and silicates have been combined with phase petrology, mass balance, and field observations to evaluate the formation mechanism of metasomatic reaction veins in dolomitic xenoliths in the Bergell tonalites (Val Sissone, Italy). Multiple generations of extensional veins can be followed from the contact zone between the dolomites and the intrusion to a few meters within either the tonalites (with the epidote–quartz veins), or within the dolomites, where they terminate. Each type of vein contains a central zone, which is formed by open fracture crystallization. This central fracture is framed by relatively symmetric replacement zones, where the original dolomite reacted to form either forsterite, diopside, tremolite or talc, all accompanied by calcite in either a succession of reaction zones or in simpler bi-mineral (silicate + calcite) veins. The δ18O and δ13C values across the veins allow temperatures to be estimated from different mineral pairs (silicate + calcite), and which confirm vein formation along a retrograde cooling path of the intrusion. At least four different fluid infiltration events are required, the first one around 555 °C to form the forsterite–calcite veins, followed by the epidote–quartz veins at temperatures around 430 °C, then the tremolite–calcite veins at around 390 °C, and finally the talc–calcite veins at around 140 °C. The shape of the δ18O and δ13C profiles, which are flat across the central part and the replacement zones of the veins (buffered by the intrusion), change substantially over short distances. Both of these isotope profiles overlap with the equally sharp mineralogical front between the veins and the unreacted dolomites. These profiles are interpreted to be the result of an isotopic exchange mechanism driven by dissolution and re-precipitation reactions. All veins are oriented perpendicular to the contact with the intrusive body, except for the late talc veins. Elevated fluid pressures, above the confining pressures caused by the regional and intrusion emplacement stress field, are suggested to be responsible for the initial fracturing of the carbonates and intrusive rocks. The contact zones between the tonalites and carbonates likely served as fluid conduits, where fluids accumulated and the pressure built up until hydrofracturing occurred. We propose that the veins formed through episodic pulses of highly reactive fluids that remained stationary during reaction, rather than a system where fluids flushed through the veins. Based on the XCO2-constrained mass balance, the formation of the veins would only require a relatively small amount of fluid, which could potentially originate from the intrusive rocks in vicinity of the xenoliths. Veining is not ubiquitous around the Bergell intrusion, suggesting that it only may have been a localized event and thus there is no need to involve a larger convective hydrothermal system for their formation.
hydrofracturing, metasomatic veins, reactive flow, skarn, stable isotopes
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University of Lausanne
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05/05/2020 21:57
Last modification date
10/01/2023 8:11
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