Date of Award
Master of Science
Rare earth elements (REE) are an increasingly important group of metals due to their role in the development of modern technologies. Despite being abundant within the Earth’s crust recoverable ores are uncommon, and their mineralization isn’t as well understood as other abundant ore types. In this work, the mineralization of REE occurring in outcrop samples at Hicks Dome, a cryptoexplosive feature that resides in the Wauboukigou Alnöite Province in southeastern Illinois, was studied to determine the mode of mineralization and the origin of the REE. Xenotime-(Y) was identified with a scanning electron microscope in an intrusive breccia and emplaced during or shortly after the uplift which created the oval doming of the Paleozoic section. Whole rock REE concentrations from ultramafic dikes at Hicks Dome closely match global averages of lamprophyres and carbonatites, with a steep La to Lu slope, and enrichment of light rare earth elements. Hicks Dome has unique characteristics relative to the other intrusions in the Province, such as elevated REE, Th, and doming. These traits indicate that the dome was more closely related to an intrusive body at depth that sourced heat, volatile gases, and a suite of rare elements. Based on these data, the REE mineralization and thorium associated with the siliceous breccia is directly related to the alkaline ultramafic intrusion at Hicks Dome. The volatile rich, hot fluids emanating from the ultramafic magma supplied REE and thorium were mixed with the regional fluids responsible for the IKFD.
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