SoS RARE fieldwork in China

First carbonatite outcrop found at Huayangchuan. Copyright Delia Cangelosi.
Carbonatite dykes at the Dashigou open pit, Huanglongpu. Copyright Delia Cangelosi.
Two happy geologists at the end of this Chinese fieldwork. Copyright Delia Cangelosi.

Between the 13th to the 23rd of June, 2016, myself, Martin Smith and Jindrich Kynicky (SOS RARE international collaborator) undertook fieldwork in Central China. Our objective as part of work package 1 was to sample material from HREE-enriched carbonatites in the central Shanxi Province, China, suitable for fluid inclusion study and geochemical analysis. This would allow us to follow up preliminary work on the Huanglongpu deposit and establish what processes have led to the unique HREE enrichment in the carbonatites.

This fieldwork was organised by Dr Martin Smith and our Chinese collaborators from the University of Peking, mainly Prof Cheng Xu and his post doc Dr Wei Song. Dr Wei Song was kind enough to assist us throughout these 10 days spent in China.

We started the trip with a very welcoming, delicious lunch offered by the Chinese team at Peking University. We were then shown around the different facilities and Martin had a couple of sessions with Prof Cheng Xu’s students, mainly on the well-known Bayan Obo carbonatite. After two days spent at the university we took the fast train in the direction of the Qinling Mountains!

The first stop of this fieldwork was the Huayangchuan carbonatite which is an unworked deposit located in a beautiful mountain area with a few exploration trenches. A few carbonatite dyke outcrops were found during the day. We walked from the bottom to the summit of the mountain, the carbonatite outcrops can be heavily weathered, but we managed to dig out reasonably fresh carbonatite. The first step for these samples will probably be some bulk rock geochemistry in order to characterise the HREE enrichment.

We were also lucky enough to visit one of the Huanglongpu open pit mines: Dashigou, where we collected a good amount of samples and structural data on the carbonatite dykes. The carbonatite dykes are nicely exposed in the open pit on two easily accessible levels. The dykes range from 1cm to 1.5m in width and occur in fine grained mafic igneous rock. Four types of carbonatite dykes (according to the structural data) were sampled, but they all appeared of similar composition. The next step is now bulk rock geochemistry and preparation of polished wafers for fluid inclusion studies.

Unfortunately the other mine in the Huanglongpu deposit, the Yuantou carbonatite, was not accessible but we managed to have a look at the mine waste boulders and grabbed a few samples. Overall the fieldwork was successful and we managed to bring back a reasonable amount of good carbonatite samples to study! Analysis is now underway at the University of Leeds.

Delia Cangelosi, 15 August 2016


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