Low-temperature Mineralization of the sub-Triassic Unconformity Surface and Alteration of the Underlying Intrusions of Southern Leicestershire, England

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1997

The Croft diorite in central England belongs to a suite of Caledonian igneous rocks collectively known as the South Leicestershire diorite complex. Although the intrusions occupy separate outcrops, they are linked at depth to form a single pluton, buried beneath a cover of Triassic sediments (Le Bas, 1972; 1982, Allsop and Arthur, 1983). Both the Caledonian diorites and the overlying sub-Triassic unconformity have been affected by a complex history of alteration and mineralization which can be subdivided into four stages: (1) deuteric effects, caused by the release of volatiles during magmatic cooling; (2) albitization through sodic enrichment; (3) formation of lowtemperature laumontite, analcime and calcite veins with associated wall-rock alteration to prehnite and pumpellyite; and (4) sub-Triassic unconformity hosted base metal, manganese and palygorskite mineralization. Zeolite mineralization occured some 200 Ma later than the intrusion itself, during post-Triassic times, as indicated by the presence of a single vein of laumontite and microcrystalline calcite which cross-cuts the sub Triassic unconformity surface and enters the overlying Triassic sediments. Evidence from fluid inclusion work indicates that two fluids were involved in the deposition of the zeolite veins. One fluid was initially of relatively high temperature (~100°C to 320°C) and low salinity (~0.2 to 5.9 wt% NaCl equiv.), and was probably meteoric in origin, whereas the other was of relatively low temperature (~41°C to 165°C) and high salinity (~0.4 to 16.72 wt% NaCl equiv.), and is interpreted to represent a basinal brine. During Triassic rifting, thinning and fracturing of the crust, with the possible rise of associated magmas (Halliday and Mitchell, 1984), could have increased permeability and heat flow, initiating the circulation of hydrothermal fluids. Triassic unconformity-hosted base-metal mineralization in Central England is similar to other Triassic-Jurassic mineralization in Europe (Mitchell and Halliday, 1976).
Keywords: Caledonian igneous rocks, Intrusions, Deuteric effect, Sodic enrichment, Laumontite veins, Analcime veins, Calcite veins, Mineralization