Multiple methods for regional- to mine-scale targeting, Pataz gold field, northern Peru

Walter Witt, Steffen Hagemann, J. Ojala, C. Laukamp, T.W. Vennemann, C. Villanes, V.M. Nykänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Gold production in the Pataz district, northern Peru, is derived from mesothermal veins hosted by the Pataz batholith and basement-hosted epithermal and carbonate-base metal veins. At the regional scale, processing of Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer data can be used to delineate district-scale argillic alteration. One such area extends for tens of kilometres NNW of Vijus in the Maranon Valley. At the southern end of this area, basement-hosted quartz-carbonate-sulfide veins in faults support artisanal gold-mining operations. SEM analyses show that the alteration envelopes around these faults are dominated by illitic clays. These artisanal gold workings highlight the economic potential of the largely unexplored parts of the district-scale argillic alteration zone, further north. At the district scale, paleostress modelling maps areas of low minimum stress during Carboniferous ENE-WSW shortening, based on a new 1:25 000 geological map of the Pataz district. The resulting distribution of low minimum stress is used to predict sites of rock fracture under high fluid pressure, and consequent vein formation. These areas of low minimum stress occupy 11% of the modelled area but contain 50% of the known veins in the Pataz district. Some areas of low minimum stress contain no known veins, and where these are poorly explored or poorly exposed, they are proposed as potential targets for gold exploration. In combination with SEM microanalysis, ASD hyperspectral reflectance analysis of drill core samples shows that visible proximal sericitic alteration around batholith-hosted auriferous veins is predominantly phengitic illite. Automated software interpretation of ASD reflectance spectra using The Spectral Assistant shows that sericite in cryptic alteration distal from auriferous veins varies from mainly illite adjacent to the phengitic illite zone, to more distal muscovite. Reactivation of faults and mineralised vein contacts during the largely Cenozoic Andean orogeny produced chlorite alteration that locally overprints proximal phengitic illite alteration. ASD spectrometry identifies relict phengitic illite in some chloritic alteration zones and thus indicates proximity to mineralised veins at the deposit scale. Elevated pathfinder element concentrations within proximal phengitic illite alteration zones around batholith-hosted veins do not extend more than a few metres beyond the visible alteration envelope. The alkali alteration index [(Rb + Cs)/Th]N is elevated above background levels for up to 15 m beyond the visible sericite alteration zone in one of two holes investigated. In the other hole, both [(Rb + Cs)/Th]N and 3K/Al can be used as a lode-scale vector to gold-bearing veins within broad intersections of visible sericite alteration. © 2014 Geological Society of Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-58
JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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