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Corundum (sapphire) and zircon relationships, Lava Plains gem fields, NE Australia: Integrated mineralogy, geochemistry, age determination, genesis and geographical typing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

F. L. Sutherland
School of Science and Health, Paramatta North Campus, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia Geoscience, Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia
R. R. Coenraads
Gemmological Association of Australia (NSW Division), 24 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia
A. Abduriyim
GIA Tokyo Laboratory, Yamaguchi Bld. 7, 11F, 4-19-9, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0016, Japan
S. Meffre
Earth Sciences & ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 79, Hobart, Tas 7001, Australia
P. W. O. Hoskin
Department of Geology, University of Namibia, Private Bag 13301, Windhoek, Namibia
G. Giuliani
Université de Lorraine, CRPG UMR 7358 CNRS-UL, BP20, 54501, Vandoevre-lès-Nancy, France
R. Beattie
Gemmological Association of Australia (Queensland Division), P.O. Box 163, Jimboomba, Queensland 4280, Australia
R. Wuhrer
Advanced Materials Characterisation Facility (AMCF), Parramatta North Campus, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
G. B. Sutherland
Geoscience, Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia


Gem minerals at Lava Plains, northeast Queensland, offer further insights into mantle-crustal gemformation under young basalt fields. Combined mineralogy, U-Pb age determination, oxygen isotope and petrological data on megacrysts and meta-aluminosilicate xenoliths establish a geochemical evolution in sapphire, zircon formation between 5 to 2 Ma. Sapphire megacrysts with magmatic signatures (Fe/Mg ∼100–1000, Ga/Mg 3–18) grew with ∼3 Ma micro-zircons of both mantle (δ18O 4.5–5.6%) and crustal (δ18O 9.5–10.1‰) affinities. Zircon megacrysts (3±1 Ma) show mantle and crustal characteristics, but most grew at crustal temperatures (600–800°C). Xenolith studies suggest hydrous silicate melts and fluids initiated from amphibolized mantle infiltrated into kyanite+sapphire granulitic crust (800°C, 0.7 GPa). This metasomatized the sapphire (Fe/Mg ∼50–120, Ga/Mg ∼3–11), left relict metastable sillimanite-corundum-quartz and produced minerals enriched in high field strength, large ion lithophile and rare earth elements. The gem suite suggests a syenitic parentage before its basaltic transport. Geographical trace-element typing of the sapphire megacrysts against other eastern Australian sapphires suggests a phonolitic involvement.

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Copyright © The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2015

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Corundum (sapphire) and zircon relationships, Lava Plains gem fields, NE Australia: Integrated mineralogy, geochemistry, age determination, genesis and geographical typing
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Corundum (sapphire) and zircon relationships, Lava Plains gem fields, NE Australia: Integrated mineralogy, geochemistry, age determination, genesis and geographical typing
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Corundum (sapphire) and zircon relationships, Lava Plains gem fields, NE Australia: Integrated mineralogy, geochemistry, age determination, genesis and geographical typing
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