Complexity gradients in the Yilgarn Craton: fundamental controls on crustal-scale fluid flow and the formation of world-class orogenic-gold deposits

Paul Hodkiewicz, R.F. Weinberg, S.J. Gardoll, David Groves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fractal-dimension analysis is an effective means of quantifying complex map patterns of structures and lithologiccl contacts, which are conduits for hydrothermal fluid flow during the formation of orogenic-gold deposits. In this study, fractal dimensions, calculated on a 10 km grid across a geologic map of the Yilgarn Craton of uniform data quality, highlight relationships between geologic complexity and the location and size of Archaean orogenic-gold deposits. In the Kalgoorlie Terrane and Laverton Tectonic Zone, the largest gold deposits occur along steep gradients defined by fractal-dimension values, These steep gradients in the greenstone belts occur between massive sedimentary rock sequences of low complexity, and volcanic and intrusive rock units with more complex map patterns. The formation of world-class orogenic-gold deposits requires that hydrothermal fluids become focused from a large volume of well-connected rocks at depth, towards narrow, high-permeability zones near the location of deposit formation. Connectivity is indirectly related to permeability, and the degree of connectivity is related to the density and orientation of fluid pathways, which are quantified in map patterns using fractal-dimension analysis. Thus, fractal dimensions are a measure of the potential for increased connectivity and the likelihood of increased permeability. Greater complexity, as measured by larger fractal dimensions, implies that a certain area has the potential to produce more interconnected pathways, or zones of high connectivity, Therefore, the steep complexity gradients defined in the Kalgoorlie Terrane and Laverton Tectonic Zone correspond to areas that focused large volumes of hydrothermal fluid and enhanced the potential for significant gold mineralisation. Fractal-dimension analysis thus provides a link between empirical map features and the processes that have enhanced hydrothermal fluid flow and resulted in the formation of larger orogenic-gold deposits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-841
JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
Volume52
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Complexity gradients in the Yilgarn Craton: fundamental controls on crustal-scale fluid flow and the formation of world-class orogenic-gold deposits'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this