Multi-stage pyrite genesis and epigenetic selenium enrichment of Greenburn coals (East Ayrshire)

Published on 2018-01-04T08:50:38Z (GMT) by
Carboniferous coals of the Ayshire Coalfield are enriched in selenium (Se) relative to average UK and world compositions, substituting for sulphur in pyrite. Geenburn surface mine coals are characterized by syngenetic concretionary pyrite (<i>c</i>. 15% total area), occuring as bedding-parallel banding, and later-formed (epigenetic) cross-cutting pyrite in cleats (<i>c</i>. 9% total area). In these, sulphur isotope compositions for both syngenetic and epigenetic pyrite include isotopically light and heavy variants, suggesting diagenetic and hydrothermal fluid formation. Late/post-Visean cleat-filling pyrite is enriched in Se (up to 266 ppm) compared to the earlier-formed material (Se up to 181 ppm). Anomalous Se may have been sourced from near-by sulphidic Dalradian metamorphic rocks. Initial Se sequestration is associated with syngenetic pyrite mineralization, absorbed from seawater and pore waters, with additional Se introduced from fluids mobilized during epigenetic pyrite formation. Cleats from local brittle fracturing provided channels for fluid flow and a locus for precipitation of comparatively high-Se pyrite. Permian dolerite intrusions may have provided an enrichment source and/or fluid distribution mechanism. The Se concentrations of the Greenburn coals relate to multi-stage mineralization, with cleat-filling pyrite showing the highest Se content, and highlight the potential for high Se in similarly altered and fractured coal deposits worldwide.

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Bullock, Liam A.; Parnell, John; Perez, Magali; Boyce, Adrian; Feldmann, Joerg; Armstrong, Joseph G.T. (2018): Multi-stage pyrite genesis and epigenetic selenium enrichment of Greenburn coals (East Ayrshire). Geological Society of London.