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Rare Earth Element Deposits of Alkaline Igneous Rocks

Department of Geology, Saint Mary’s University, 923 Robie Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3C3, Canada
Resources 2017, 6(3), 34;
Received: 9 May 2017 / Revised: 20 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 25 July 2017
Alkaline igneous complexes host deposits of rare earth elements (REE), which represent one of the most economically important resources of heavy REE and Yttrium (Y). The hosts are differentiated rocks ranging from nepheline syenites and trachytes to peralkaline granites. These complexes usually occur in continental within-plate tectonic settings associated with rifts, faults, or hotspot magmatism. The REE mineralization is found in layered alkaline complexes, granitic stocks, and late-stages dikes and rarely trachytic volcanic and volcaniclastic deposits. The bulk of REE is present in accessory minerals, which can reach percentage levels in mineralized zones. The mineralization contains various REE-bearing minerals that can display complex replacement textures. Main REE minerals present in these deposits are bastnäsite, eudialyte, loparite, gittinsite, xenotime, monazite, zircon, and fergusonite. The parent magmas of alkaline igneous complexes are derived from partial melts of mantle sources. Protracted fractional crystallization of the magma led to an enrichment in REE, particularly in the late stages of magma evolution. The primary magmatic mineralization is commonly overprinted (remobilized and enriched) by late magmatic to hydrothermal fluids. Elevated abundances of U and Th in the deposits make a gamma-ray (radiometric) survey an important exploration tool, but also represent a significant environmental challenge for exploitation. View Full-Text
Keywords: rare earth elements; alkaline igneous rocks; deposits; REE-bearing minerals; ore genesis; petrogenesis; exploration rare earth elements; alkaline igneous rocks; deposits; REE-bearing minerals; ore genesis; petrogenesis; exploration
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Dostal, J. Rare Earth Element Deposits of Alkaline Igneous Rocks. Resources 2017, 6, 34.

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