Stawell gold deposit: a key to unravelling the Cambrian to Early Devonian structural evolution of the western Victorian goldfields

John Miller, C.J.L. Wilson, L.J. Dugdale

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    Abstract

    Major 440 Ma orogenic-gold deposits in the western Victorian goldfields formed during east-west shortening but have markedly different structural complexity. These deposits occur in: (i) a Cambrian Delamerian basement block that was substantially reworked and reactivated during the Lachlan Orogeny (Stawell); and (ii) Ordovician turbidites deformed solely by Lachlan-aged deformation (Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemaine). This produced different structural histories prior to mineralisation, although gold deposits have been localised at the top of regional domal culminations. At Stawell, the 440 Ma gold event reactivated a strike-change along a pre-existing Cambrian fault system above a major lithospheric boundary. In the Bendigo Zone, 440 Ma orogenic-gold deposits hove a trend oblique to the dominant structural grain and parallel to the western edge of an inferred crystalline basement block (the Selwyn Block). This gold trend is parallel to metamorphic field gradients and pluton age boundaries, which suggests an underlying basement control on the localisation of these orogenic-gold deposits, even though the exact basement architecture is still unresolved, Major variations in the regional stress fields occurred between 425 and 370 Ma, with large gold deposits (> 62 t (2 million ounces) endowments) forming at ca 380-370 Ma. These events are not deposit-scale structural anomalies as they also regionally affect overlying cover sequences (e.g. the Grampians Group). Gold deposits that formed in the 425-400 Ma period have small endowments, but introduce a marked amount of structural and mineralogical complexity to the gold province. The 425-400 Ma period preserved at Stawell records sinistral wrenching associated with gold mineralisation, southeast-directed faulting, intrusion-related gold mineralisation and extensive high-level Early Devonian plutonism.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)677-695
    JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
    Volume53
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2006

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