Giuliani Gaston, Groat L. A. (2019). Geology of corundum and emerald gem deposits : a review. Gems and Gemology, 55 (4), p. 464-489. ISSN 0016-626X.
The great challenge of geographic origin determination is to connect the properties and features of individual gems to the geology of their deposits. Similar geologic environments can produce gems with similar gemological properties, making it difficult to find unique identifiers. Over the last two decades, our knowledge of corundum and emerald deposit formation has improved significantly. The mineral deposits are classically separated into primary and secondary deposits. Primary corundum deposits are subdivided into two types based on their geological environment of formation: (1) magmatic and (2) metamorphic. Magmatic deposits include gem corundum in alkali basalts as in eastern Australia, and sapphire in lamprophyre and syenite as in Montana (United States) and Garba Tula (Kenya), respectively. Metamorphic deposits are divided into two subtypes (1) metamorphic deposits sensu stricto (in marble; mafic and ultramafic rocks, or M-UMR), and (2) metamorphic-metasomatic deposits characterized by high fluid-rock interaction and metasomatism (i.e., plumasite or desilicated pegmatites in M-UMR and marble, skarn deposits, and shear zone-related deposits in different substrata, mainly corundum-bearing Mg-Cr-biotite schist). Examples of the first subtype include the ruby deposits in marble from the Mogok Stone Tract or those in M-UMR from Montepuez (Mozambique) and Aappaluttoq (Greenland). The second subtype concerns the sapphire from Kashmir hosted by plumasites in M-UMR. Secondary corundum deposits (i.e., present-day placers) result from the erosion of primary corundum deposits. Here, corundum is found in the following types of deposits: eluvial (derived by in situ weathering or weathering plus gravitational movement), diluvial (scree or talus), colluvial (deposited at the base of slopes by rainwash, sheetwash, slow continuous downslope creep, or a combination of these processes), and alluvial (deposited by rivers). Today, most sapphires are produced from gem placers related to alkali basalts, as in eastern Australia or southern Vietnam, while placers in metamorphic environments, such as in Sri Lanka (Ratnapura, Elahera) and Madagascar (Ilakaka), produce the highest-quality sapphires. The colluvial Montepuez deposit in Mozambique provides a huge and stable supply of clean and very high-quality rubies. Primary emerald deposits are subdivided into two types based on their geological environment of formation: (1) tectonic-magmatic-related (Type I) and (2) tectonic-metamorphic-related (Type II). Several subtypes are defined and especially Type IA, hosted in M-UMR, which accounts for about 70% of worldwide production (Brazil, Zambia, Russia, and others). It is characterized by the intrusion of pegmatites or quartz veins in M-UMR accompanied by huge hydrothermal fluid circulation and metasomatism with the formation of emerald-bearing desilicated pegmatite (plumasite) and biotite schist. Type IB in sedimentary rocks (China, Canada, Norway, Kazakhstan, and Australia) and Type IC in granitic rocks (Nigeria) are of minor importance. The subtype Type IIA of metamorphic deposits is related to hydrothermal fluid circulation at high temperature, in thrust fault and/or shear zones within M-UMR of volcano-sedimentary series, such as at the Santa Terezinha de Goias deposit in Brazil. The subtype Type IIB is showcased by the Colombian emerald deposits located in the Lower Cretaceous black shales of the Eastern Cordillera Basin. These are related to the circulation of hydrothermal basinal fluids in black shales, at 300-330 degrees C, that dissolved evaporites in (1) thrust and tear faults for the deposits of the western emerald zone (Yacopi, Coscuez, Muzo, Penas Blancas, Cunas, and La Pita mines) and (2) a regional evaporite level intercalated in the black shales or the deposits of the eastern emerald zone (Gachala, Chivor, and Macanal mining district Secondary emerald deposits are unknown because emerald is too fragile to survive erosion and transport in rivers.