Multi-stage Ag-Bi-Co-Ni-U and Cu-Bi vein mineralization at Wittichen, Schwarzwald, SW Germany

Geological setting, ore mineralogy, and fluid evolution

Sebastian Staude, Wolfgang Werner, Teresa Mordhorst, Klaus Wemmer, Dorrit E. Jacob, Gregor Markl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)


The Wittichen Co-Ag-Bi-U mining area (Schwarzwald ore district, SW Germany) hosts several unconformity-related vein-type mineralizations within Variscan leucogranite and Permian to Triassic redbeds. The multistage mineralization formed at the intersection of two fault systems in the last 250 Ma. A Permo-Triassic ore stage I with minor U-Bi-quartz-fluorite mineralization is followed by a Jurassic to Cretaceous ore stage II with the main Ag and Co mineralization consisting of several generations of gangue minerals that host the sub-stages of U-Bi, Bi-Ag, Ni-As-Bi and Co-As-Bi. Important ore minerals are native elements, Co and Ni arsenides, and pitchblende; sulphides are absent. The Miocene ore stage III comprises barite with the Cu-Bi sulfosalts emplectite, wittichenite and aikinite, and the sulphides anilite and djurleite besides native Bi, chalcopyrite, sphalerite, galena and tennantite. The mineral-forming fluid system changed from low salinity (<5 wt.% NaCl) at high temperature (around 300°C) in Permian to highly saline (around 25 wt.% NaCl + CaCl 2) at lower temperatures (50-150°C) in Triassic to Cretaceous times. Thermodynamic calculations and comparison with similar mineralizations worldwide show that the Mesozoic ore-forming fluid was alkaline with redox conditions above the hematite-magnetite buffer. We suggest that the precipitation mechanism for native elements, pitchblende and arsenides is a decrease in pH during fluid mixing processes. REE patterns in fluorite and the occurrence of Bi in all stages suggest a granitic source of some ore-forming elements, whereas, e.g. Ag, Co and Ni probably have been leached from the redbeds. The greater importance of Cu and isotope data indicates that the Miocene ore stage III is more influenced by fluids from the overlying redbeds and limestones than the earlier mineralization stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-276
Number of pages26
JournalMineralium Deposita
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

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