Mineralogy and geochemistry of the non-sulfide Zn deposits in the Sierra Mojada district, Coahuila, Mexico
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The Sierra Mojada district consists of multiple types of mineral concentrations ranging from polymetallic sulfide deposits, "non-sulfide Zn" (NSZ) deposits, and a Pb carbonate deposit hosted by Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous carbonates. This study focuses on the two non-sulfide Zn deposits, the Smithsonite Manto and the Iron Oxide Manto, that occur south of the San Marcos fault. The Smithsonite Manto shows karst features, including internal sediments interbanded with smithsonite (ZnCO₃). The Iron Oxide Manto consists of strata-bound zones dominantly of hemimorphite (Zn₄Si₂O₇ (OH)₂·H₂O) that fills pores in Fe-oxides. The mineralogy of the NSZ mineralization consists of smithsonite, hemimorphite and Zn clays (sauconite) associated mainly with calcite and Mn-Fe-oxides. Zn clays are abundant in the Smithsonite Manto, but no Zn clays have been found in the Iron Oxide Manto. This project attempts to constrain the origin of the NSZ concentrations through petrographic and mineralogical study of major Zn-bearing minerals, and their carbon and oxygen stable isotopes and Pb isotope geochemistry. Smithsonite in the Smithsonite Manto occurs as botryoidal aggregates consisting of scalenohedral or rhombohedral microcrystals and banded colloform or massive smithsonite in open spaces, whereas smithsonite in the Iron Oxide Manto occurs as rhombic microcrystals grown in pore spaces or finely intergrown with Fe-oxides. Both Fe-poor and Fe-rich smithsonite are found in the Iron Oxide Manto. Under optical-CL, smithsonite displays complex growth zoning that can be related to variable trace element content. Trace elements semiquantitatively analyzed using LA-ICP-MS show that most blue luminescent smithsonite has lower Mn contents than pink to bright red luminescent zones in smithsonite. Preliminary fluid inclusion petrography in hemimorphite and calcite suggests that fluid composition can be related to precipitation of NSZ minerals from freshwater to slightly saline waters. Calculated salinities for two phase (liquid +vapor) and single phase (liquid) inclusions in hemimorphite range between 0.0 and 1.6 wt. % NaCl equivalent, and salinities of inclusions in calcite were between 0.0 and 1.1 wt. % NaCl equivalent. The oxygen isotope values for smithsonite are relatively constant (avg. [delta]¹⁸O[subscriptVSMOW] = 21.9 ± 0.5[per mille]), whereas [delta]¹³C[subscriptVPDB] values range from -8.4 to -1.1 [per mille]. The oxygen isotope values in late calcite are within the same range of smithsonite, whereas the average values of the carbon isotope are lower by 5 [per mille]. Formational temperature of smithsonite is calculated to be between 26 ~ 40 °C using the modern groundwater composition at Cuatro Ciénegas. Similar Pb isotopic compositions of smithsonite and cerussite to galena suggest the source of metals in the NSZ deposits presumably originate from the sulfide deposits.