3 years ago

C-O-H-N fluids circulations and graphite precipitation in reactivated Hudsonian shear zones during basement uplift of the Wollaston-Mudjatik Transition Zone: Example of the Cigar Lake U deposit

C-O-H-N fluids circulations and graphite precipitation in reactivated Hudsonian shear zones during basement uplift of the Wollaston-Mudjatik Transition Zone: Example of the Cigar Lake U deposit
Graphitic shear zones are spatially associated with unconformity-related uranium deposits that are located around the unconformity between the strata of the Paleo- to Mesoproterozoic Athabasca Basin (Saskatchewan, Canada) and its underlying Archean to Paleoproterozoic basement. The present study focuses on basement-hosted ductile-brittle graphitic shear zones near the Cigar Lake U deposit, one of the largest unconformity-related U deposits. The goal of the study is to decipher the pre-Athabasca Basin fluid migration history recorded within such structures and its potential role on the formation of such exceptional deposit. Dominantly C-O-H(−N) metamorphic fluids have been trapped in Fluid Inclusion Planes (FIPs) in magmatic quartz within ductile-brittle graphitic shear zones active during retrograde metamorphism associated with the formation of the Wollaston-Mudjatik Transition Zone (WMTZ) between ca. 1805 and 1720Ma. Such fluids show a compositional evolution along the retrograde path, from a dense and pure CO2 fluid during the earliest stages, through a lower density CO2 ±CH4-N2H2O) fluid and, finally, to a very low density CH4-N2 fluid. Statistical study of the orientation, distribution, proportion, and chemical characterization of the FIPs shows that: i) CO213CCO2 around −9‰ PDB) from decarbonation reactions and/or partial water-metamorphic graphite equilibrium initially migrated regionally and pervasively under lithostatic conditions at about 500 to 800°C and 150 to 300MPa. Such P-T conditions attest to a high geothermal gradient of around 60 to 90°C/km, probably related to rapid exhumation of the basement or a large-scale heat source. ii) Later brittle reactivation of the shear zone at around 450°C and 25–50MPa favored circulation of CO2-CH4-N2H2O) fluids in equilibrium with metamorphic graphite (δ13CCO2 around −14‰) under hydrostatic conditions and only within the shear zones. Cooling of these fluids and the water uptake linked to fluid-basement rock reactions led to the precipitation at around 450°C of poorly-crystallized hydrothermal graphite. This graphite presents isotopic (δ13C30 to −26‰ PDB) and morphological differences from the high-T metamorphic graphite (>600°C, −29 to −20‰ δ13C) derived from metamorphism of C-rich sedimentary material. The brittle structural reactivation and the related fluid migration and graphite precipitation were specifically focused within the shear zones and related damage zones. The brittle reactivation produced major changes in the petro-physical, mineralogical, and chemical characteristics of the structures and their damage zones. It especially increased the fracture paleoporosity and rock weakness toward the fault cores. These major late metamorphic modifications of the graphitic shear zones were likely key parameters favoring the enhanced reactivity of these basement zones under tectonic stress following deposition of the Athabasca Basin, and so controlled basinal brine movement at the basin/basement interface related to the formation of the unconformity-related uranium deposits. This relationship consequently readily explains the specific spatial relationships between unconformity-related U deposits and the ductile-brittle graphitic shear zones.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0024493717303420

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