skip to main content

Title: Simulation of REE mobility and evolution of F-NaCl-CO2-bearing fluids in hydrothermal calcite and fluorite ore-forming veins
Rare earth element (REE) deposits are commonly associated with carbonatites and (per)alkaline rocks where hydrothermal magmatic fluids can play a significant role in REE mobilization and deposition [1]. Thermodynamic modeling permits predicting the evolution of ore-forming fluids and can be used to test different controls on hydrothermal REE mobility including temperature, pressure, the solubility of REE minerals, aqueous REE speciation and pH evolution associated with fluid-rock interaction. Previous modeling studies either focused on REE fluoride/chloride complexation in acidic aqueous fluids [2] or near neutral/alkaline fluids associated with calcite vein formation [3]. Such models were also applied to interpret field observations in REE deposits Bayan Obo in China and Bear Lodge in Wyoming [3,4]. Recent hydrothermal calcite-fluid REE partitioning experiments provide new data to simulate the solubility of REE in calcite, REE carbonates/fluorocarbonates at high temperatures [5, 6]. We studied the competing effects controlling the mobility of REE in hydrothermal fluids between 100 and 400 °C at 500 bar. Speciation calculations were carried out in the Ca-F-CO2-Na-Cl-H2O system using the GEMS code package [7]. The properties of minerals and aqueous species were taken from the MINES thermodynamic database [3,5]. The Gallinas Mountains hydrothermal REE deposit in New Mexico was used as a more » field analogue to compare our models with the formation of calcite-fluorite veins hosting bastnäsite. Previous fluid inclusion studies hypothesized that the REE were transported as fluoride complexes [8] but more recent modeling studies have shown that fluoride essentially acts as a depositing ligand [2]. Here we show more detailed simulations predicting the stability of fluorite, calcite and REE minerals relevant to ore-forming processes in carbonatites and alkaline systems. [1] Gysi et al. (2016), Econ. Geol. 111, 1241-1276; [2] Migdisov and Williams-Jones (2014), Mineral. Deposita 49, 987-997. [3] Perry and Gysi (2018), Geofluids; [4] Liu et al. (2020), Minerals 10, 495; [5] Perry and Gysi (2020), Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 286, 177-197; [6] Gysi and Williams-Jones (2015) Chem. Geol. 392, 87-101;[7] Kulik et al. (2013), Computat. Geosci. 17, 1-24; [8] Williams-Jones et al. (2000), Econ. Geol. 95, 327-341 « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Critical mineral deposits commonly form in magmatic-hydrothermal systems including carbonatites and/or alkaline syenites, and more evolved peralkaline granites where the rare earth element (REE) undergo a complex array of partitioning, transport and mineralization. Significant alteration and veining zones develop in these deposits and can be used to vector ore zones in the field [1]. The REE ore minerals typically reflect the characteristics of these systems, which are enriched in carbonate, fluoride, and phosphate or a combination thereof. The REE can also be incorporated into vein minerals such as calcite, fluorite and apatite where the REE3+ exchange for Ca2+ on the crystal lattice [2]. These minerals give us clues about the hydrothermal reaction paths of REE in critical mineral deposits. This study aims to: 1) present our recent findings from hydrothermal fluid-mineral REE partitioning experiments, 2) discuss thermodynamic models to simulate REE in critical mineral deposits, and 3) link the thermodynamic simulations to field observations. Hydrothermal fluid-calcite partitioning experiments were conducted between 100 and 200 °C by hydrothermal fluid mixing and precipitation [2] at near neutral to mildly alkaline pH (6 – 9). The REE concentrations in synthetic calcite crystals and aqueous fluids sampled in situ were used to fit themore »data to the lattice strain model [3] and using the Dual Thermodynamic approach [4]. A second type of experiment consisted of reacting natural fluorite and apatite crystals with acidic to mildly acidic (pH of 2 – 4) aqueous fluids in batch-type reactors to study the behavior of REE and mineral dissolution-precipitation reactions near crystal surfaces. The GEMS code package [5] was used to implement these new data into a thermodynamic model and simulate possible REE reaction paths in hydrothermal fluids. Two REE mineral deposits in New Mexico (Lemitar and Gallinas Mountains) present ideal case studies to illustrate how these models can be linked to field observations from natural systems. [1] Gysi et al. (2016), Econ. Geol. 111, 1241-1276; [2] Perry and Gysi (2020), Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 286, 177-197; [3] Blundy and Wood (1994) Nature 372, 452-454; [4] Kulik (2006), Chem. Geol. 225, 189-212; [5] Kulik et al. (2013), Computat. Geosci. 17, 1-24.« less
  2. Critical mineral deposits form through an interplay of magmatic-hydrothermal processes in carbonatites and (per)alkaline systems during their emplacement in the Earth’s crust. Hydrothermal aqueous fluids can lead to the mobilization, transport, and deposition of the rare earth elements (REE) coupled to development of alteration zones at the deposit scale [1]. However, unraveling the underlying processes that affect the solubility of REE in these geologic fluids is a challenge in high temperature and pressure fluids [2]. A holistic approach is key to understand the controls of fluid-rock interaction in mobilizing REE in critical mineral deposits. Through a joint effort, we formed a new U.S. geoscience critical minerals experimental–thermodynamic research hub between New Mexico Tech, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Indiana University. The goal of this project is to conduct frontiers research on the behavior of critical elements in supercritical aqueous fluids by integration of a wide array of high temperature solubility experiments complemented by spectroscopic measurements and molecular dynamic simulations. Here we present current advances to simulate a significant vein paragenesis of barite + fluorite +calcite +bastnäsite-(Ce) observed in many critical mineral deposits. A case study will be presented from the Gallinas Mountains REE-fluorite hydrothermal breccia deposit in New Mexico. Usingmore »the GEMS code package [3] and the MINES thermodynamic database (, we highlight our current capabilities and limitations to simulate the behavior of REE in these hydrothermal fluids and minerals. A thermodynamic model is presented to simulate the partitioning of REE between calcite- and fluorite-fluid based on recent and ongoing experimental and thermodynamic work on the synthesis of REE doped minerals [4] and REE speciation in acidic and alkaline fluids. We further show how to integrate multiple experimental datasets and develop new thermodynamic models based on the new research efforts from the research hub and future directions to improve our prediction capabilities of REE complexation in supercritical fluids. [1] Gysi et al. (2016), Econ. Geol. 111, 1241-1276; [2] Migdisov et al. (2016), Chemical Geology 439, 13-42. [3] Kulik et al. (2013), Comput Geosci 17, 1–24. [4] Perry and Gysi (2020), Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 286, 177-197.« less
  3. Rare earth element (REE) deposits are found in association with carbonatite and alkaline systems, where metasomatism plays a significant role in the late-stage transport and enrichment of REE [1]. Fluorite is a common gangue mineral in these mineral deposits and can incorporate varying REE concentrations by substitutions of REE3+ for Ca2+. Fluorite-hosted fluid inclusions contain significant REE concentrations [2], providing a potential record of the hydrothermal ore-forming fluids. The fluorite-fluid REE partitioning mechanisms, however, are largely unknown. To date, only one study [3] measured the partitioning of REE between fluorite and aqueous fluid at 60 °C. Here, we evaluate these REE partitioning mechanisms by combining laboratory experiments with characteristics of natural fluid inclusions that provide a range of salinities and homogenization temperatures relevant to natural systems. Batch-type experiments will be conducted between 100 and 250 °C in Teflon-lined reactors, in which millimeter-sized natural fluorite crystals (Cooke’s Peak, New Mexico) will be reacted with fluids of varying initial REE concentration, pH, and salinity. Kinetic experiments were carried out at 150 °C to test for attainment of a steady state between the fluorite crystals and the aqueous solutions. The reacted fluorite crystals will be studied using SEM, CL and EMPA. Major cationsmore »and anions in the quenched fluids will be analyzed using IC and ICP-OES; REE will be determined using solution ICP-MS. These results will permit deriving REE fluorite-fluid partition coefficients. Fluid inclusions in hydrothermal fluorite veins from the fluorite-bastnäsite REE deposits in the Gallinas Mountains in New Mexico are studied to constrain temperatures, salinities, and REE concentrations of hydrothermal ore-forming fluids in alkaline systems. Fluid inclusion assemblages were identified in growth zones and will be further studied using microthermometry. Previous studies found maximum temperatures of 400 °C in sulfate-rich NaCl-KCl brines [4]. The goal will be to link partition coefficients derived from the experiments to the REE partitioning behavior found in the natural fluorite. [1] Gysi et al. (2016), Econ. Geol. 111, 1241-1276; [2] Vasyukova and Williams-Jones (2018) Chem. Geol. 483, 385-396; [3] van Hinsberg et al. (2010), Geology 38, 847-850; [4] Williams-Jones et al. (2000), Econ. Geol. 95, 327-341.« less
  4. Monazite-(Ce) and xenotime-(Y) occur as secondary minerals in iron-oxide-apatite (IOA) deposits, and their stability and composition are important indicators of timing and conditions of metasomatism. Both of these minerals occur as replacement of apatite and display slight but important variations in light (e.g. La, Ce, Pr, Nd, etc.) and heavy (e.g. Y, Er, Dy, Yb, etc.) REE concentrations [1,2]. The causes for these chemical variations can be quantified by combining thermodynamic modeling with field observations. Major challenges for determining the stability of these minerals in hydrothermal solutions are the underlying models for calculating the thermodynamic properties of REE-bearing mineral solid solutions and aqueous species as a function of temperature and pressure. The thermodynamic properties of monazite and xenotime have been determined using several calorimetric methods [3], but only a few hydrothermal solubility studies have been undertaken, which test the reliability and compatibility of both the calorimetric data and thermodynamic properties of associated REE aqueous species [4,5]. Here, we evaluate the conditions of REE metasomatism in the Pea Ridge IOA-REE deposit in Missouri, and combine newly available experimental solubility data to simulate the speciation of LREE vs. HREE, and the partitioning of REE as a function of varying fluid compositions andmore »temperatures. Our new experimental data will be implemented in the MINES thermodynamic database (http:// for modeling the chemistry of crustal fluid-rock equilibria [6]. [1] Harlov et al. (2016), Econ. Geol. 111, 1963-1984;[2] Hofstra et al. (2016), Econ. Geol. 111, 1985-2016; [3] Navrotsky et al. (2015), J. Chem. Thermodyn. 88, 126-141; [4] Gysi et al. (2015), Chem. Geol. 83-95; [5] Gysi et al. (2018), Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 242, 143-164; [6] Gysi (2017), Pure and Appl. Chem. 89, 581-596.« less
  5. Societal demand for critical metals used in the high-tech and green industries has led to an increased interest in REEs associated with ore deposits. Hydrothermal mineralization of monazite (CePO4) in various REE deposits can display significant variations in REE mineralogy and rock chemistry. Monazite displays textural and REE compositional variations, such as those observed in the giant Bayan Obo REE deposit in China and in the Pea Ridge iron-oxide-apatite (IOA) deposit in Missouri. The coupling of compositional variations of monazite with thermodynamic modeling of fluid-rock interaction processes may provide a useful vectoring tool in these ore deposits. However, interpreting these geochemical fingerprints requires building an internally consistent thermodynamic dataset for REE minerals and their relevant aqueous complexes. In this study, a series of hydrothermal solubility experiments were carried out using synthetic monazite crystals (i.e., LaPO4, PrPO4, NdPO4, and EuPO4) to assess the consistency of reported mineral calorimetric data and the thermodynamic data of the aqueous REE complexes. The solubility experiments were conducted in aqueous HClO4-H3PO4–bearing solutions at temperatures between 100° and 250°C and at saturated water vapor pressure. Equilibrium constants (Ks0) for the dissolution reaction of monazite end members were retrieved as a function of temperature and extrapolated to standardmore »conditions of 25°C and 1 bar. Results indicate significant differences between the new solubility data and those reported in the literature. We demonstrate the impact of these new thermodynamic data in a series of fluid-rock interaction models using the GEMS code package ( and the MINES thermodynamic database ( The simulated monazite stability can be correlated to field observations and allows for the prediction of the behavior of REE in hydrothermal fluids and their association to alteration observed in ore deposits.« less