Archean high-Mg monzodiorite-syenite, epidote skarn, and biotite-sericite gold lodes in the Granny Smith-Wallaby district, Australia: U-Pb and Re-Os chronometry of two intrusion-related hydrothermal systems

Andreas Mueller, Gregory Hall, Alexander Nemchin, Holly Stein, Robert Creaser, Douglas Mason

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36 Citations (Scopus)


The Granny Smith (37 t Au production) and Wallaby deposits (38 t out of a 180 t Au resource) are located northeast of Kalgoorlie, in 2.7 Ga greenstones of the Eastern Goldfields Province, the youngest orogenic belt of the Yilgarn craton, Western Australia. At Granny Smith, a zoned monzodiorite-granodiorite stock, dated by a concordant titanite-zircon U-Pb age of 2665±3 Ma, cuts across E-dipping thrust faults. The stock is fractured but not displaced, and sets a minimum age for large-scale (1 km) thrust faulting (D2), regional folding (D1), and dynamothermal metamorphism in the mining district. The local gold-pyrite mineralization, controlled by fractured fault zones, is younger than 2665±3 Ma. In augite-hornblende monzodiorite, alteration progressed from a hematite-stained alkali feldspar-quartz-calcite assemblage and quartz-molybdenite-pyrite veins to a late reduced sericite-dolomite-albite assemblage. Gold-related monazite and xenotime define a U-Pb age of 2660±5 Ma, and molybdenite from veins a Re-Os isochron age of 2661±6 Ma, indicating that mineralization took place shortly after the emplacement of the main stock, perhaps coincident with the intrusion of late alkali granite dikes. At Wallaby, a NE-trending swarm of porphyry dikes comprising augite monzonite, monzodiorite, and minor kersantite intrudes folded and thrust-faulted molasse. The conglomerate and the dikes are overprinted by barren (<0.01 g/t Au) anhydrite-bearing epidote-actinolite-calcite skarn, forming a 600 m wide and >1600 m long replacement pipe, which is intruded by a younger ring dike of syenite porphyry pervasively altered to muscovite + calcite + pyrite. Skarn and syenite are cut by pink biotite-calcite veins, containing magnetite + pyrite and sub-economic gold-silver mineralization (Au/Ag = 0.2). The veins are associated with red biotite-sericite-calcite-albite alteration in adjacent monzonite dikes. Structural relations and the concordant titanite U-Pb age of the skarn constrain intrusion-related mineralization to 2662±3 Ma. The main-stage gold-pyrite ore (Au/Ag >10) forms hematite-stained sericite-dolomite-albite lodes in stacked D2 reverse faults, which offset skarn, syenite, and the biotite-calcite veins by up to 25 m. The molybdenite Re-Os age (2661±10 Ma) of the ore suggests a genetic link to intrusive activity, but is in apparent conflict with a monazite-xenotime U-Pb age (2651±6 Ma), which differs from that of the skarn at the 95% confidence level. The time relationships at both gold deposits are inconsistent with orogenic models invoking a principal role for metamorphic fluids released during the main phase of compression in the fold belt. Instead, mineralization is related in space and time to late-orogenic, magnetite-series, high-Mg monzodiorite-syenite intrusions of mantle origin, characterized by Mg / (Mg + FeTOTAL) = 0.31-0.57, high Cr (34-96 ppm), Ni (22-63 ppm), Ba (1056-2321 ppm), Sr (1268-2457 ppm), Th (15-36 ppm), and total REE (343-523 ppm). At Wallaby, shared Ca-K-CO2 metasomatism and Th-REE enrichment (in allanite) link Au-Ag mineralization in biotite-calcite veins to the formation of the giant epidote skarn, implicating a Th + REE-rich syenite pluton at depth as the source of the oxidized hydrothermal fluid. At Granny Smith, lead isotope data and the Rb-Th-U signature of early hematite-bearing wall-rock alteration point to fluid released by the source pluton of the differentiated alkali granite dikes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-362
Number of pages26
JournalMineralium Deposita
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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