Rare earth partitioning between immiscible carbonate and silicate liquids and CO2 vapor: Results and implications for the formation of light rare earth-enriched rocks

Research paper by Richard F. Wendlandt, Wendy J. Harrison

Indexed on: 01 Aug '79Published on: 01 Aug '79Published in: Contributions to mineralogy and petrology. Beitrage zur Mineralogie und Petrologie


Melting relations at 5 and 20 kbar on the composition join sanidine-potassium carbonate are dominated by a two-liquid region that covers over 60% of the join at 1,300 ° C. At this temperature, the silicate melt contains approximately 19 wt% carbonate component at 5 kbar and 32 wt% carbonate component at 20 kbar. The conjugate carbonate melt contains less than 5 wt% silicate component, and it varies less as a function of temperature than does the silicate melt.Partition coefficients for Ce, Sm, and Tm between the immiscible carbonate and silicate melts at 1,200 ° and 1,300 ° C at 5 and 20 kbar are in favor of the carbonate melt by a factor of 2–3 for light REE and 5–8 for heavy REE. The effect of pressure on partitioning cannot be evaluated independently because of complementary changes in melt compositions.Minimum REE partition coefficients for CO2 vapor/carbonate melt and CO2 vapor/silicate melt can be calculated from the carbonate melt/silicate melt partition coefficients, the known proportions of melt, and maximum estimates of the proportion of CO2 vapor. The vapor phase is enriched in light REE relative to both melts at 20 kbar and enriched in all REE, especially the light elements, at 5 kbar. The enrichment of REE in CO2 vapor relative to both melts is 3–4 orders of magnitude in excess of that in water vapor (Mysen, 1979) at 5 kbar and is approximately the same as that in water vapor at 20 kbar.Mantle metasomatism by a CO2-rich vapor enriched in light REE, occurring as a precursor to magma genesis, may explain the enhanced REE contents and light REE enrichment of carbonatites, alkali-rich silicate melts, and kimberlites. Light REE enrichment in fenites and the granular suite of nodules from kimberlites attests to the mobility of REE in CO2-rich fluids under both mantle and crustal conditions.