The nature and dimensions of regional and local gold-related hydrothermal alteration in tholeiitic metabasalts in the Norseman goldfields: the missing link in a crustal continuum of gold deposits

T.C. Mccuaig, R. Kerrich, David Groves, N. Archer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    43 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The Archaean lode-gold deposits at Norseman, Western Australia, consist of auriferous quartz veins in dextral-reverse ductile-brittle shear zones within tholeiitic metabasalts of upper-greenschist to amphibolite facies metamorphic grade. Three types of deposits (Northern, Central, Southern) are delineated on the basis of their spatial distribution, veining style, alteration mineralogy and metamorphic grade of host rocks. Northern deposits, hosted in upper-greenschist to lower-amphibolite facies rocks, comprise massive to laminated quartz veins with selvedges of quartz-chlorite-calcite-biotite-plagioclase assemblages. Central deposits, hosted in lower-amphibolite facies rocks, consist of laminated to massive quartz veins with selvedges of quartz-actinolite-biotite-plagioclase-calcite assemblages. Southern deposits, hosted in middle-amphibolite facies metabasalts, consist of banded quartz-diopside-calcite-microcline-zoisite veins. All deposits exhibit variable ductile deformation of veins and contiguous alteration haloes, consistent with a syn-deformational genesis at high temperatures. From Northern to Southern deposits, the alteration assemblages are indicative of higher temperatures of formation, and there are progressively greater degrees of dynamically recovered textures in alteration and gangue minerals. These observations imply that a thermal variation of gold-related hydrothermal alteration exists within the Norseman Terrane over a distance of 40 km, with T(Northern) <T(Central) <T(Southern). This thermal zonation is corroborated by T-X(CO2) phase relations between vein selvedge assemblages, which signify formation temperatures of approximately 420-degrees-475-degrees-C, 470-degrees-495-degrees-C and > 500-degrees-C for Northern, Central and Southern deposits, respectively. The sum of structural, petrographic and mineral chemistry data indicates that the alteration assemblages formed in high-temperature, open hydrothermal systems and have not been subsequently metamorphosed. The thermal differences between the deposit groups may reflect (1) a temperature gradient, at relatively constant P, corresponding to the proximity of the deposits to regional granitoid complexes, or (2) formation of the deposits at progressively deeper crustal levels from north to south. In either case the deposits represent a continuum of gold deposition from upper-greenschist to amphibolite facies, now exposed in an oblique section through the Archaean crust at Norseman.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)420-435
    JournalMineralium Deposita: international journal of geology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of mineral deposits
    Volume28
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1993

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