Incipient metal and sulfur extraction during melting of metasomatised mantle

Andrea Rielli, Andrew G. Tomkins, Oliver Nebel, Joël Brugger, Barbara Etschmann, Katy A. Evans, Jeremy L. Wykes, Prokopiy Vasilyev, David J. Paterson

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5 Citations (Scopus)


A long-standing debate on the genesis of magmatic-hydrothermal Cu-Au deposits is whether the elevated oxygen fugacity (fO2) and metal endowment of their parental magmas are inherited from the mantle source or acquired during fractionation within the crust. This debate is built mainly on the composition of magmas emplaced into the upper crust that underwent varying degrees of differentiation and assimilation, which inevitably obscure their relationship to mantle processes. Here, we approach this debate from a new perspective by studying melt generation directly in mantle samples. This opportunity is provided by xenoliths from Lake Bullen Merri (Australia), which record partial melting of a pre-existing metasomatic assemblage. Melting occurred when the xenoliths were incorporated in hot basalts and carried towards the surface, where quenching upon eruption froze-in the melt-restite relationships. These samples preserve patches and interconnected networks of silicate glass along grain boundaries, caught in the act of undergoing melting and melt extraction. Melting consumed mainly metasomatic hornblende, phlogopite, and clinopyroxene, generating shoshonitic compositions that can be sulfide-rich, or have negligible sulfide content. We use four independent approaches to estimate the fO2 of glass, including sulfide content, oxybarometry based on spinel-olivine pairs, Fe3+/Fetot of glass determined by synchrotron X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy, and Cu/Fe ratio of the sulfide assemblage. Sulfide-rich melt had higher fO2 compared to the sulfide-poor melt, and these characteristics were inherited from the metasomatic assemblage; the oxidation state of the melts controlled their sulfide content. Subduction-modified mantle can thus store elevated oxidation state, sulfur, and metal content for hundreds of millions of years before low-degree partial melting generates oxidised, sulfur- and metal-enriched high-K/shoshonitic melts in post-collisional settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117850
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • arc magma
  • oxygen fugacity
  • porphyry deposit
  • spinel peridotite
  • synchrotron Fe XANES

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