Gold mineralisation throughout about 45 Ma of Archaean orogenesis: Protracted flux of gold in the Golden Mile, Yilgarn craton, Western Australia

R. Bateman, Steffen Hagemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Golden Mile deposit was discovered in 1893 and represents today the largest Archaean orogenic lode gold system in the world (50 M oz produced gold). The Golden Mile deposit comprises three major styles of gold mineralisation: Fimiston, Oroya and Charlotte styles. Fimiston-style lodes formed at 250 to 350degreesC and 100 to 200 MPa and are controlled by brittle-ductile fault zones, their subsidiary fault zone and vein networks including breccias and open-cavity-infill textures and hydrothermally altered wall rock. Fimiston lodes were formed late D-1, prior to D-2 regional upright folding. Hydrothermal alteration haloes comprise a progression toward the lode of diminishing chlorite, an increase in sericite and in Fe content of carbonates. Lodes contain siderite, pyrite, native gold, 17 different telluride minerals (Au-Ag tellurides contain similar to25% of total gold), tourmaline, haematite, sericite and V-rich muscovite. Oroya-style lodes formed at similar P-T conditions as the Fimiston lodes and are controlled by brittle-ductile shear zones, associated dilational jogs that are particularly well developed at the contact between Paringa Basalt and black shale interflow sedimentary rocks and altered wall rock. The orebodies are characterised by micro-breccias and zones of intense shear zone foliation, very high gold grades (up to 100,000 g/t Au) and the common association of tellurides and vanadian mica (green leader). Oroya lodes crosscut Fimiston lodes and are interpreted to have formed slightly later than Fimiston lodes as part of one evolving hydrothermal system spanning D-1 and D-2 deformation (ca. 2,675-2,660 Ma). Charlotte-style lodes, exemplified by the Mt Charlotte deposit, are controlled by a sheeted vein (stockwork) complex of north-dipping quartz veins and hydrothermally altered wall rock. The Mt Charlotte orebody formed at 120 to 440degreesC and 150 to 250 MPa during movement along closely spaced D-4 (2,625 Ma) and reactivated D-2 faults with the quartz granophyre in the Golden Mile Dolerite exerting a strong lithological control on gold mineralisation. Veins consist of quartz-carbonate-minor scheelite, and wall-rock alteration comprises chlorite destruction and growth of ferroan carbonate-sericite-pyrite-native gold. Pyrite-pyrrhotite is zoned on the scale of vein haloes and of the entire mine, giving a vertical temperature gradient of 50-100degreesC over 1,000 vertical metres. The structural-hydrothermal model proposed consists of four major stages: (1) D-1 thrusting and formation of Fimiston-style lodes, (2) D-2 reverse faulting and formation of Oroya-style lodes, (3) D-3 faulting and dissecting of Fimiston- and Oroya-style lodes, and (4) D-4 faulting and formation of Mt Charlotte-style sheeted quartz vein system. The giant accumulation of gold in the Golden Mile deposit was formed due to protracted gold mineralisation throughout episodes of an Archaean orogeny that spanned about 45 Ma. Fluid conduits formed early in the tectonic history and persisted throughout orogenesis with the plumbing system showing a rare high degree of focussing, efficiency and duration. In addition to the long-lasting fluid plumbing system, the wide variety of transient structural and geochemical traps, multiple fluid sources and precipitation mechanism contributed towards the richest golden mile in the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-559
JournalMineralium Deposita
Volume39
Issue number5-6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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