Cobalt-, Nickel-, and Iron-Bearing Sulpharsenides from the North of England

R. A. Ixer, C. J. Stanley and D. J. Vaughan
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Aston in Birmingham, Birmingham B4 7ET

Summary: Within the Alston Orefield of the North Pennines, glaucodot and gersdorffite have been found in samples from Tynebottom Mine, Garrigill, and zoned gersdorffite has been found from Nenthead and the Great Sulphur Vein. At Scar Crag in the English Lake District, glaucodot and alloclase (the first reported occurrence in the United Kingdom) occur associated with arsenopyrite and minor cobaltite and skutterudite. The mineralogy and parageneses of these associations have been studied by ore microscopy, X-ray powder photography, and electron probe microanalysis.

Electron probe microanalysis shows a considerable range in nickel content in the sulpharsenides from the Alston Orefield with a relatively constant Co:Fe ratio. Samples from Scar Crag contain no nickel but exhibit almost a complete range of Co:Fe ratios from FeAsS to CoAsS. The compositions of the Alston Orefield sulpharsenides, in particular, show them to be metastable phases when compared with data from synthetic studies. At Tynebottom Mine, glaucodot and gersdorffite overgrow arsenical marcasite, and at Nenthead and the Great Sulphur Vein, early pyrite framboids or euhedra act as cores to zoned gersdorffite crystals. The Scar Crag sulpharsenides occur in a quartz chlorite apatite vein with the glaucodot and alloclase as overgrowths on arsenopyrite.

In the case of the Scar Crag association, consideration of the compositions of coexisting phases, together with precise determinations of the arsenic content of the arsenopyrites, has permitted speculation regarding temperatures and sulphur activities during ore formation. Estimated ranges are Tc. 400 °C–300 °C and aS2 ≈ 10−9–10−11 11 bar. The occurrence of the sulpharsenides in the Alston Orefield correlates with further geochemical differences compared to other Pennine ores, differences that have been linked to higher temperatures of formation and a magmatic contribution to the ore-forming fluid. The Scar Crag mineralization may be related to a postulated stock intrusion beneath Causey Pike and the geographical proximity of the Alston and Scar Crag occurrences does suggest the possibility of a genetic link.

Mineralogical Magazine; September 1979 v. 43; no. 327; p. 389-395; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1979.043.327.11
© 1979, The Mineralogical Society
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