Genesis of the mega-crystal zircons in the dunite veins of North Qaidam Mountains, northwestern China

Research paper by FanCong Meng, JianXin Zhang

Indexed on: 08 May '09Published on: 08 May '09Published in: Chinese science bulletin = Kexue tongbao


A megacrystal zircon occurs in serpentinized dunite veins from North Qaidam, northwestern China. It is red-brown and 3–4 mm long and 2 mm wide in size. BSE imaging shows the presence of micro-grains (30–50 μm) of zircon between olivine and serpentine, part of them gathering into clusters (100–300 μm). Thus we infer that these zircon crystals were precipitated from hydrothermal fluid. Inclusions of baddeleyite (white) in the shape of isolated island locally occur in the large zircon (grey), implying that the former formed earlier than the latter. The mirco-baddeleyite (50–100 μm) aggregate consists of baddeleyite (3–5 μm) and olivine (<5 μm), indicating the zircon formation through interaction between baddeleyite and silica-bearing fluid. Therefore, we consider a genetic link between the formation of the large zircon and the serpentinization of dunite. SHIRIMP U-Pb dating of the large zircon gave two groups of concordant ages at 414 ± 13 Ma and 371 ± 9 Ma, respectively. This might reflect two episodes of zircon growth in response to two episodes of fluid action.