Geology and geochemistry of newly discovered Tertiary carbonatite occurrences near Villa Ahumada area, Basin and Range province, Chihuahua, northern Mexico

Ravi Chenchu Nandigam, University of Texas at El Paso


This study targets some newly discovered carbonatite occurrences located in the eastern Mexican Basin and Range province, a few kilometers to the east of Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua. The region containing these occurrences experienced compression related to subduction of the Farallon plate until about 32 Ma that was followed by Basin and Range extension. Geological mapping (1:5,000 scale), petrography, study of drill hole cuttings and satellite images, and major and trace element chemical analyses were utilized to understand the intrusive style of the carbonatites, their mineralogy and petrogenesis. ^ The carbonatites, named Yuca, Mariana and El Indio, collectively intrude limestones, granitic intrusives and subduction-related tuffs and lavas mainly as a stock, breccias and dikes. The Yuca carbonatite was emplaced as a 900-m diameter stock, 500 x 350 m breccia body, numerous dikes and networks of fracture fillings. Crosscutting field relationships at Yuca suggest at least two stages of carbonatite emplacement. At Mariana, carbonatite was emplaced as a 750 x 350 m breccia. Four out of nine reverse circulation drill holes penetrated and bottomed in the breccia at an average depth of about 300 m At El Indio, carbonatite was emplaced as a 20 m diameter breccia pipe and a 1m thick sill. ^ Major minerals present are calcite, Fe-rich calcite and hematite. Sporadic presence of fluorite is common. At Mariana, two generations of grossular-rich garnets associated with limestones and granite porphyry respectively are recognized. It is inferred that garnets in granite porphyry represent metasomatic alteration due to the emplacement of carbonatite breccia. ^ Parental magmas of Yuca carbonatites have undergone differentiation under low fO2 conditions during which they were progressively enriched in iron. The carbonatite compositional types recognized based on major element data, in the sequence of least to most highly differentiated, are (1) magnesio-, (2) calcio- and (3) ferrocarbonatites. The concentrations of thorium, uranium, niobium, yttrium and rare earth elements increase with differentiation. Carbonatites are associated with up to 20000 times enrichment of lanthanum and cerium with respect to chondrite. Finally, the Mariana carbonatite breccia is associated with about 7,928,550 short tons of rock with a grade of 0.14% ΣREE, and primitive mantle normalized trace element plots of carbonatites indicate a mantle origin of their parental melts. ^

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Recommended Citation

Nandigam, Ravi Chenchu, "Geology and geochemistry of newly discovered Tertiary carbonatite occurrences near Villa Ahumada area, Basin and Range province, Chihuahua, northern Mexico" (2000). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI9970437.