Rare earth elements in apatite as a monitor of magmatic and metasomatic processes: The Ilímaussaq complex, South Greenland

Aurelia L K Zirner*, Michael A W Marks, Thomas Wenzel, Dorrit E. Jacob, Gregor Markl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Textural and compositional variations of apatite from the plutonic Ilímaussaq complex in South Greenland and its surrounding country rocks track magmatic and metasomatic processes. Detailed back-scattered electron (BSE) imaging reveals various types of apatite textures including (i) growth zonation (concentric, oscillatory as well as sector zonation) formed during magmatic differentiation, (ii) resorption and overgrowth textures due to fluid/melt induced metasomatic overprint of precursor apatite and (iii) replacement textures indicating the destabilization of apatite in favor of monazite.In the least evolved rocks of the Ilímaussaq complex, apatite incorporates rare earth elements and Y (REY) mainly via the coupled substitution Ca2++P5+=REY3++Si4+. In the more evolved peralkaline rocks and in metasomatically overprinted rocks, however, the coupled substitution 2 Ca2+=REY3++Na+ becomes increasingly relevant, and apatite incorporates successively more LREE compared to HREE as shown by increasing (La/Gd)N and (Gd/Yb)N ratios. Similarly, at the contact between the Ilímaussaq rocks and the granitic country rocks, the metasomatic effect of the emplacement of the Ilímaussaq melts is preserved in partly resorbed precursor apatite, which is overgrown by REY-enriched apatite with higher (La/Gd)N and (Gd/Yb)N ratios compared to apatite from granites more distant from the contact.This study shows, that apatite textures and compositions are suitable to track both primary magmatic and later fluid-present metasomatic processes. The incorporation of REY in apatite is not only dependent on the amount of REY present but also depends largely on Na activity in the apatite-precipitating melts and fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Ilímaussaq
  • Apatite
  • Rare earth elements
  • Alkaline to peralkaline rocks


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