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Voicu_GoldMetallogenyGuianaShield

Voicu_GoldMetallogenyGuianaShield

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Ore Geology Reviews 18 2001 211–236www.elsevier.com
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Lithostratigraphy, geochronology and gold metallogeny in thenorthern Guiana Shield, South America: a review
Gabriel Voicu
a,b,
)
, Marc Bardoux
a
, Ross Stevenson
c
a
`
( ) Departement des Sciences de la Terre et de l’Atmosphere, Uni
Õ
ersite du Quebec a Montreal UQAM , CP 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville,
´ ` ´ ´ ` ´
 Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 3P8
b
Omai Gold Mines Ltd., 176-D Middle Street, Cummingsburg, PO Box 12249, Georgetown, Guyana
c
´
GEOTOP, Uni
Õ
ersite du Quebec a Montreal, CP 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 3P8
´ ´ ` ´
Received 15 November 2000; received in revised form 12 April 2001; accepted 1 June 2001
Abstract
With a surface area of nearly 900,000 km
2
, the Guiana Shield represents the northern segment of the Amazonian Cratonin South America, lying for the most part between the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Most of the Guiana Shield formedduring protracted periods of intense magmatism, metamorphism and deformation, culminating with the Trans-Amazoniantectono-thermal event, bracketed between 2.1 and 1.9 Ga.The Guiana Shield is among the least known Precambrian terranes because it is relatively inaccessible, lacks bedrock exposure due to intense weathering and is poorly documented in the international geological literature. This situation hassignificantly improved during the last 20 years, when shallow in situ gold occurrences attracted exploration and miningcompanies to initiate geological programs aimed at better understanding the geology and the mineral deposits of the Shield.
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The only Archean terrane ca. 3400 Ma known to date in the Guiana Shield is the Imataca Complex in Venezuela. ThePaleoproterozoic low-grade volcano–sedimentary greenstone sequences and associated granitoid intrusions have yieldedages between 2.25 and 2.08 Ga. Recent U–Pb age determinations of the granitoid–greenstone belts suggest protractedmagmatic cycles from pre- to post-peak regional metamorphism. The younger terranes comprise anorogenic sedimentarysequences of the Roraima Formation, as well as felsic volcanic rocks and associated intrusions of the Uatuma Formation,mafic dikes of the Avanavero Suite and Rapakivi-type and alkali intrusions.Several large-scale ductile shear zones have been documented in the Guiana Shield. In northcentral Venezuela, the mostoutstanding structure documented to date, the NE–SW trending Guri Fault, juxtaposes the Archean Imataca complex against
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Paleoproterozoic terranes. The Central Guiana Shear Zone CGSZ extends from French Guiana westerly towards central
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Suriname and further west towards northcentral Guyana, where it matches with the Makapa–Kuribrong shear zone MKSZ .
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In French Guiana, the North Guiana Trough NGT is interpreted as a sinistral strike-slip formed during the Trans-Amazonianorogeny.Most gold deposits and occurrences discovered to date in the Guiana Shield are sited in close proximity to majorstructures. In addition, they are linked with low- to medium metamorphic-grade granitoid–greenstone belts, similar to otherbetter-explored Precambrian terranes. At a local scale, the gold deposits are hosted within, or in close proximity to, quartzveins that are syn- to late-tectonic, and to a lesser extent, in stockworks, breccias, and lenses. They are commonly located in
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Corresponding author.
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 E-mail address:
gvoicu@sprint.ca G. Voicu .0169-1368
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01
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$ - see front matter
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2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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PII: S0169-1368 01 00030-0
 
( )G. Voicu et al.
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Ore Geology Re
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iews 18 2001 211–23
212
units that behaved in a more brittle manner than the country rocks. Available information suggests that gold deposits aremainly epigenetic, although some are associated with specific lithostratigraphic units. Pyrite, pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, galena,sphalerite, scheelite, molybdenite and tellurides are the main metallic minerals associated with gold. Non-metallic minerals
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are mainly quartz and carbonates ankerite, calcite, siderite , associated with minor chlorite, epidote, albite, muscovite andfuchsite. Silica, carbonate, propylitic and potassic alteration is common.High erosion rates expected after the creation of an orogenic belt did not occur in the northern Guiana Shield.Shallow-level deposits preserved in many settings suggest that the granitoid–greenstone belts represent first-order explo-ration targets for large tonnage
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low-grade gold deposits.
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2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Guiana shield; Paleoproterozoic; Trans-Amazonian orogeny; Granitoid–greenstone terranes; Gold metallogeny; Gold depositmodels
1. Introduction
The Guiana Shield represents the northern seg-ment of the Amazonian Craton in South America. Itcovers an area of nearly 900,000 km
2
between the
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Amazon and Orinoco rivers Cordani et al., 1988
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and underlies the territory of five countries Vene-
.
zuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil .The Guiana Shield is among the least documentedPrecambrian terranes, although it represents one of the world’s two most extensive entities of Paleopro-terozoic crust.Most of the Shield is underexplored, both geolog-ically and geographically. Bedrock geology is hin-dered by thick weathering profiles, tropical vegeta-
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tion and Tertiary sands Gibbs and Barron, 1993;
.
Voicu et al., 1997a . However, the best exposuresalong major streams and rivers provide regional geo-logical information, which has been more recentlyrefined with detailed geochemical and geophysicalsurveys. During the last 15–20 years, the discoveryof several shallow in situ gold deposits and occur-rences attracted exploration and mining companies toinitiate geological and diamond-drilling programsaimed to better understand the geology of the Shieldand, implicitly, its associated mineral deposits.Despite difficulties in developing a world-classgold deposit, it has now been demonstrated with thediscovery and development of the Omai gold mine inGuyana that the Guiana Shield may be endowed with
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major gold deposits Bertoni et al., 1991a,b . Recentfeasibility studies of new discoveries such as Las
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Cristinas Venezuela , Gross Rosebel Suriname ,
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Yaou and Dorlin French Guiana have clearlyshowed the excellent potential for the developmentof mining operations. All of these gold depositsoccur near the surface and can be exploited by theopen-pit mining method. The weathered part of thedeposits generally preserves the gold grade of the
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bedrock as, for example, at Omai and Gross Rosebel,Bhatt, 1995; Wasel et al., 1997; Voicu and Bardoux,
.
in press and can be exploited under low mining andmilling costs.Although the Guiana Shield is endowed withdiverse mineral resources, the identification and loca-tion of known mines and occurrences in the literatureis often incomplete. Gold is the major exploitablecommodity and is the best documented. Currentinformation suggests that the majority of these golddeposits and occurrences are linked with low- tomedium metamorphic-grade granitoid–greenstonebelts, similar to other better-explored Precambrian
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terranes e.g. Kerrich and Cassidy, 1994; Milesi et
´
.
al., 1995; Groves et al., 1998 . Exploration projectsand mining operations have led to a better under-standing of the geological and metallogenic charac-teristics of the greenstone belts and associated grani-toids, particularly because they included detailedacademic studies of petrography, isotopic geochem-istry and regional or local structural geology. As anexample, the first stable isotope studies on golddeposits, which have very recently been published
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Lerouge et al., 1999; Voicu et al., 1999b; Lafrance
.
et al., 1999 , suggest that the Paleoproterozoic golddeposits of the Guiana Shield show many character-
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istics of Archean deposits e.g. Colvine et al., 1988;
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Kerrich and Cassidy, 1994 . This implies that asimilar mineral endowment may be expected. How-ever, gold is the only commodity characteristic of Archean greenstone belts that has so far been pro-duced from the Paleoproterozoic Guiana Shield ana-logue. To date, the cumulative gold production of 
 
( )G. Voicu et al.
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Ore Geology Re
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iews 18 2001 211–23
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800–900 tonnes has been derived mainly from placerdeposits, and less from weathered rock or bedrock 
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mining Claus and Giles, 1997 . This ratio will prob-ably change significantly in the future. Ancient andrecent alluvial workings are still one of the bestexploration guides to significant discoveries. Theyindicate that gold occurs near the surface and thateconomic deposits may be relatively easy to definewith shallow auger or diamond-drilling programs.Thus, most concessions staked recently by the min-eral industry are centered on old workings, some of which are still operated by heavily mechanizedprospectors.Consequently, in the near future, the Guiana Shieldcould represent another major gold producer, takinginto consideration the regional extent of the metallo-genic provinces in the Precambrian greenstone belts.However, the base metal potential should not bedisregarded. Gold mining records, along with drillingdata, clearly indicate that gold is commonly associ-ated with a number of sulfides, that, in a few places
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e.g. Paul Isnard, French Guiana; Groete Creek,
.
Guyana; Salobo, Brazil , occur in sufficiently signifi-cant quantities to deserve consideration for furtherexploration and possible economic exploitation
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Banerjee and Moorhead, 1971; Beurlen and Casse-danne, 1981; Walrond, 1985; Gaal and Teixeira,
`
1988; Delgado et al., 1994; Bardoux et al., 1997;
.
Franklin et al., 2001 .This paper is based on seven years of investiga-tion by the authors. Its purpose is to review theavailable information on the geology and gold de-posits of the northern Guiana Shield and to providean updated guide to mineral exploration. Because thegeological terminology for the greenstone belts inthe Guiana Shield is not yet uniform across countryboundaries and detailed geology is still lacking, theinformation presented bypass regional correlationwhich is not considered critical for this study. Mostdata discussed here are from unpublished internalcompany reports, feasibility studies and undergradu-ate or graduate dissertations, as well as from papersin international journals or conference abstracts dur-ing the last 15–20 years. The synthesis published by
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Gibbs and Barron 1993 on the geology and mineraldeposits of the Guiana Shield compiles availabledata until the mid-1980s. The reader is referred tothis excellent work for older bibliographic refer-ences. Since then, the amount of information andunderstanding of the geology and gold metallogenyin the Guiana Shield has increased significantly.
2. The Guiana Shield overview
The Guiana Shield has been subdivided into sev-eral major geological units using various criteria
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tectonic, lithostratigraphic and geochronological ,which have led to a complex terminology, generallydifferent across country boundaries. In this brieoverview, the major rock units are discussed in termsof absolute or relative geochronology, and only thegenerally accepted terminology for the entire Guiana
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Shield is used Figs. 1 and 2 . All U–Pb agespresented hereafter are obtained from zircons by Pbevaporation and isotope dilution techniques. To our
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knowledge, no ion microprobe SHRIMP U–Pb dataare reported to date for the Guiana Shield.The lithological sequences of the Guiana Shieldcan be divided into two major entities. The olderterranes include the orogenic Archean and Paleopro-terozoic sequences, represented by the Imataca Com-
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plex in Venezuela and the Trans-Amazonian grani-
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toid–greenstone belts, respectively Fig. 3 . TheImataca Complex, the only Archean terrane known
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to date in the Guiana Shield 3400–3700 Ma,whole-rock U–Pb method, Montgomery, 1979;Bernasconi, 1987; Cohen and Gibbs, 1989; Gibbs
.
and Barron, 1993 , includes gneisses, migmatites andvolcano–sedimentary rocks at granulite or amphibo-
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lite metamorphic facies Swapp and Onstott, 1989 .The NE–SW trending Guri Fault, one of the mostprominent geological features of the Guiana Shield, juxtaposes gneissic rocks of the Imataca Complexagainst Paleoproterozoic volcano–plutonic terranesof the Pastora Supergroup and the Supamo Complex
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in northcentral Venezuela Cox et al., 1993; Menen-
.
dez, 1995 .The Paleoproterozoic low-grade volcano–sedi-mentary greenstone sequences yield U–Pb and Sm–
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Nd ages between 2250 and 2110 Ma e.g. Gruau etal., 1985; Milesi et al., 1995; Day et al., 1995;
´
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Lafrance et al., 1999; Norcross et al., 2000 . Severalforeland basin-filling sequences, which have beendeformed and metamorphosed in lower greenschistfacies, occur in Suriname and French Guiana, and

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