Geochemical and mineralogical studies were conducted on the 12-m-thick weathering profile of the Kata Beach granite in Phuket, Thailand, in order to reveal the transport and adsorption of rare earth elements (REE) related to the ion-adsorption type mineralization. The parent rock is ilmenite-series biotite granite with transitional characteristics from I type to S type, abundant in REE (592 ppm). REE are contained dominantly in fluorocarbonate as well as in allanite, titanite, apatite, and zircon. The chondrite-normalized REE pattern of the parent granite indicates enrichment of LREE relative to HREE and no significant Ce anomaly. The upper part of the weathering profile from the surface to 4. 5 m depth is mostly characterized by positive Ce anomaly, showing lower REE contents ranging from 174 to 548 ppm and lower percentages of adsorbed REE from 34% to 68% compared with the parent granite. In contrast, the lower part of the profile from 4. 5 to 12 m depth is characterized by negative Ce anomaly, showing higher REE contents ranging from 578 to 1,084 ppm and higher percentages from 53% to 85%. The negative Ce anomaly and enrichment of REE in the lower part of the profile suggest that acidic soil water in an oxidizing condition in the upper part mostly immobilized Ce4+ as CeO2 and transported REE3+ downward to the lower part of the profile. The transported REE3+ were adsorbed onto weathering products or distributed to secondary minerals such as rhabdophane. The immobilization of REE results from the increase of pH due to the contact with higher pH groundwater. Since the majority of REE in the weathered granite are present in the ion-adsorption fraction with negative Ce anomaly, the percentages of adsorbed REE are positively correlated with the whole-rock negative Ce anomaly. The result of this study suggests that the ion-adsorption type REE mineralization is identified by the occurrence of easily soluble REE fluorocarbonate and whole-rock negative Ce anomaly of weathered granite. Although fractionation of REE in weathered granite is controlled by the occurrence of REE-bearing minerals and adsorption by weathering products, the ion-adsorption fraction tends to be enriched in LREE relative to weathered granite.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Economic Geology