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Fluid Inclusions

Small inclusions of liquid tapped in the crystal lattice as a crystal grows. Represent actual
sample of the mineralizing fluid. Usually very small, 100 microns in size (106cm).

Two types of inclusions

1. Primary inclusions - inclusions formed at the time of crystallization. Can be used

for geothermometry and in some cases to actually chemically analyze the ore
2. Secondary inclusions - formed during recrystallization or as the result of some
secondary deformation of the crystal. Generally of little value.

Primary Inclusions

Type I - By far the most common. Consist of two phases, liquid water and a small vapor
phase which occupies 10-40% of the inclusion. Results from the decrease in volume of
the liquid as it cools to room temperature. Used for homogenization measurements in
which the inclusion is heated until the liquid phase expands to fill the inclusion. This
represents the temperature of crystallization. Salinities of the tapped fluids can also be
determined by freezing the inclusion and observing the temperature at which the liquid
phase appears.

Type II- Similar to Type I in that they are two phase inclusions, however, in this case the
vapor phase occupies 60% or more of the inclusion. These are inclusions which formed
when the ore fluids were boiling.
Type III - These are inclusions which have tapped high salinity fluids (up to 50 wt.%
NaCl). The result is the crystallization of daughter phases within the inclusion such as
halite and anhydrite.

Type IV - Three phases inclusions with liquid and vapor water phases and a third C02
liquid phase. Not common types of inclusions.

The Table below is one of a small number of chemical analyses which have been
preformed on inclusion fluids. Note the high salinity of the fluids, 3-5 times that of

Typical Analysis of a Fluid Inclusion (ppm)

Chlorine 150,000 Manganese 1500

Sodium 50,000 Sulfate <100

Potassium 20,000 Sulfide 10

Calcium 30,000 Zinc 500

Barium 235 Lead 100

Strontium 600 Copper 50

Iron 2000 Silica 500

Total Dissoved Solids 10-30%

Inversion Points

We can also examine the inversion temperatures of minerals. An example is the inversion
of beta quartz to alpha quartz at 573°C. If the inversion did occur, i.e. the quartz
crystallized above the inversion temperature, a hydrofluoric acid etch will reveal the
original crystal form. Examples of useful ore minerals are:

acanthite <=> argentite

monoclinic <=> cubic 177°C

orthorhombic chalcocite <=>hexagonal chalcocite 1040°C

All inversion points can generally be revealed by an acid etch. Unfortunately, there are
too few polymorphic minerals.

Exsolution Textures

Result from limited solid solution in many oxide/sulfide systems. At high temperature a
single solid solution phase crystallizes, but as the temperature drops the solid solution
breaks down and separate phases form (exsolution). We can generally easily recognize
exsolution textures in polished sections and laboratory experiments have established the
temperature at which the exsolution occurs. The Table below lists some of the common
exsolution pairs.

Common Exsolution Pairs

Oxide Pairs Sulfide Pairs

Cassiterite - tantalite Bornite - chalcocite

Chromite - hematite Bomite - chalcopyrite

Chromite - ilmenite Chalcocite - covellite

Hematite - rutile Chalcopyrite - pyrrhotite

Hematite - ilmenite Galena - argentite

Magnetite - ilmenite Pyrrhotite - pentlandite

Magnetite- hematite Sphalerite - chalcopyrite

Columbite - tantalite Tennantite - galena