Oxidized and reduced mineral assemblages in greenstone belt rocks of the St. Ives gold camp, Western Australia: vectors to high-grade ore bodies in Archaean gold deposits?

Peter Neumayr, J. Walshe, Steffen Hagemann, K. Petersen, A. Roache, P. Frikken, L. Horn, S. Halley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hydrothermal sulfide-oxide-gold mineral assemblages in gold deposits in the Archaean St. Ives gold camp in Western Australia indicate extremely variable redox conditions during hydrothermal alteration and gold mineralization in space and time. Reduced alteration assemblages (pyrrhotite-pyrite) occur in deposits in the southwest of the camp (e.g., Argo, Junction deposits) and moderately to strongly oxidized assemblages (magnetite-pyrite, hematite-pyrite) occur in deposits in the Central Corridor in the northeast (e.g., North Orchin, Revenge deposits). Reduced mineral assemblages flank the Central Corridor of oxidized deposits and, locally, cut across it along E-W trending faults. Oxidized mineral assemblages in the Central Corridor are focused on gravity lows which are interpreted to reflect abundant felsic porphyritic intrusions at about 1,000 m below present surface. Hydrothermal magnetite predates and is synchronous with early phases of gold-associated albite-carbonate-pyrite-biotite-chlorite hydrothermal alteration. Later-stage, gold-associated pyrite is in equilibrium with hematite. The spatial distribution and temporal sequence of iron sulfides and oxides with gold indicate the presence of at least two spatially restricted but broadly synchronous hydrothermal fluids with contrasting redox states. Sulfur isotope constraints support the argument that the different mineral assemblages reflect differences in redox conditions. The delta S-34 values for pyrite for the St. Ives gold camp range between -8.4 parts per thousand and +5.1 parts per thousand with the negative values occurring in oxidized magnetite-rich domains and slightly negative or positive values occurring in reduced, pyrrhotitic domains. Preliminary spatial and paragenetic analysis of the distribution of iron sulfides and oxides in the St. Ives camp suggests that gold grades are highest where the redox state of the hydrothermal alteration assemblages switches from relatively reduced pyrrhotite-pyrite to relatively oxidized magnetite-pyrite and hematite-pyrite both in space and time. Gold deposition is inferred to have occurred where fluids of contrasting redox state mixed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-371
JournalMineralium Deposita
Volume43
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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