Unravelling the formation histories of placer gold and platinum-group mineral particles from Corrego Bom Successo, Brazil: A window into noble metal cycling

Frank Reith, Gert Nolze, Romeo Saliwan-Neumann, Barbara Etschmann, Matthew R. Kilburn, Joel Brugger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Gold and platinum-group-metals (PGM) are cycled through Earth's environments by interwoven geological, physical, chemical and biological processes leading to the trans/neoformation of metallic particles in placers. The placer deposit at Corrego Bom Successo (CBS, Brazil) is one of the few localities worldwide containing secondary gold- and PGM-particles. Placer gold consists of detrital particles from nearby hydrothermal deposits that were transformed in the surface environment. Processes that have affected these particles include short-distance transport, chemical de-alloying of the primary gold-silver, and (bio)geochemical dissolution/ re-precipitation of gold leading to the formation of pure, secondary gold and the dispersion of gold nanoparticles. The latter processes are likely mediated by non-living organic matter (OM) and bacterial biofilms residing on the particles. The biofilms are largely composed of metallophillic beta- and gamma-Proteobacteria. Abundant mobile gold and platinum nanoparticles were detected in surface waters, suggesting similar mobilities of these metals. Earlier hydrothermal processes have led to the formation of coarsely-crystalline, arborescent dendritic potarite (PdHg). On potarite surfaces, biogeochemical processes have then led to the formation of platinum- and palladium-rich micro-crystalline layers, which make up the botryoidal platinum-palladium aggregates. Subsequently potarite was dissolved from the core of many aggregates leaving voids now often filled by secondary anatase (TiO2) containing biophilic elements. The presence of fungal structures associated with the anatase suggests that fungi may have contributed to its formation. For the first time a primary magmatic PGM-particle comprising a mono-crystalline platinum-palladium-alloy with platinum-iridium-osmium inclusions was described from this locality, finally defining a possible primary source for the PGM mineralisation. In conclusion, the formation of modern-day placer gold- and PGM-particles at CBS began 100s of millions of years ago by magmatic and hydrothermal processes. These provided the metal sources for more recent biogeochemical cycling of PGEs and gold that led to the trans/neoformation of gold- and PGM-particles. (C) 2019 International Association for Gondwana Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-259
Number of pages14
JournalGondwana Research
Volume76
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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