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Archean Au Deposits

Deposit models

T. Campbell McCuaig

Changes in last decade

Resurgence of multiple models for mineralisation:
S Syngenetic/lateral ti /l t l secretion ti (L (Large et t al. l 2007 2007, 2009) Metamorphosed deposits in high T domains, not crustal continuum (Phillips and Powell 2009; Tomkins and Grundy 2009) (Hemlo, Big Bell, Griffins Find) Magmatic fluid source (Hall et al 2001; Mueller et al 2008) Mantle fluid source (Cleverley et al. 2008; Kendrick et al. 2008) Fluid mixing (Neumayr et al. 2008)

How do we use these to target?

Steps in Exploration Targeting

Hronsky and Groves (2008)

Deposit models
Built from deposit-scale observations
Scale at which we can more readily study them

Focus on type deposits

Carlin style Au Kambalda style NiS Bushveld style PGE Wit Witswatersrand t d style t l A Au Kuroko style VHMS Olympic Dam style IOCG

Position of PGE Reefs and Ni deposits in layered intrusions

Ni mineralisation associated with ultramafic rocks (komatiites)

Gresham and Loftus-Hills (1981); Stone and Masterman (1998)

Deposit models
Often focus on specific aspects of ore genesis
Usually focussed on deposition (where we study them) Focussed F d on specific ifi geoscience i subdisciplines bdi i li often ft in i isolation!
Natural consequence of academic system specialist research championed over generalist (Groves, 2009)
Structural geology Geochemistry P-T-X conditions (FLINC, phase equilibria, mineral thermometers, isotope fractionation, chemical process modelling) Fluid tracing (stable and radiogenic isotopes, with above) Geochronology Alteration/gangue mineralogy/petrology Igneous/metamorphic petrology

Conflicting and often mutually exclusive interpretation

Orogenic Au - Structurally Controlled

Alteration envelope around orogenic g g gold mineralisation

Distal alteration
Pasi Eilu 2001

Proximal alteration


Based on Colvine et al. (1988)

Au:Ag>5; As,+/- Sb, Te, W, Mo, Hg, W; generally low base metal abundances

Orogenic Au - control of host rock and temperature

Variation in alteration mineralogy with host rock and temperature

Cassidy, 1992

Deposit models
More comprehensive syntheses encompass multiple deposit styles
High Hi h sulphidation l hid ti versus low l sulphidation l hid ti epithermal ith l Epithermal-Porphyry transition Continuum model for Orogenic Au Unconformity uranium SEDEX-MVT Komatiite-hosted NiS

Good summaries of variations between deposit styles Can be excellent summaries of deposit scale processes

Epithermal Au

Corbett 2004

Porphyry to Epithermal Cu-Au Deposit Model

Corbett 2004

Archaean Orogenic Gold Deposit Model - Crustal Continuum for Au

Timing late tectonic = ca. 2640-2630 Ma in Yilgarn Yil

Fluid Sources metamorphicdominated

Groves et al., 1993

Deposit models - limitations

Often focus on one aspect of system, not holistic Often too many variations on a theme for practical application
IOCG Porphyry model variants Uranium 14 models, 22 submodels

Struggle to be predictive
Where predictive = local scale to terrane scale Finds analogues of what you have already found

Show that giant deposits and small showings often have similar fluids and deposit scale features (Groves, 2009)
E.g. fertile magmas hard to differentiate from infertile on deposit scale (Cooke et al, 2009)

Deposit models struggle to be predictive

We have a much better (albeit very incomplete) understanding of the processes controlling mineralisation than 40 years ago So our targeting must be more effective, yes?
No Find new deposits in brownfields, but struggle to find new ore systems in new terranes or greenfields terranes

DEPOSIT MODELS ARE AT WRONG SCALE for regional exploration decisions!

McKeith (2009)

Prediction-detection tradeoff

Camp scale decision





after McCuaig and Hronsky 2000

Models = belief systems

Timing late tectonic = ca. 2640-2630 Ma in Yilgarn Yil

Fluid Sources metamorphicdominated

Groves et al., 1993

But, its hard to find what you are not looking for
as as in this picture of nine dolphins

Use of Models
Exploration Process
identify mappable criteria at appropriate scales generate targets prioritize and rank targets evaluate targets

EVERYONE does this y think whether they they do or not!


Yilgarn Example

Robert et al., 2006

Robert et al., 2005

Dolerite as an exploration criteria in Yilgarn Au

Brown, 2002


Dolerite model good, but

Excludes major deposits - would not find Wallaby (~7 Moz Au), Sunrise Dam (~10 Moz Au) and Kanowna Belle (~5 Moz Au) + many others Terrane Specific would not be as successful f li in other h Archaean Cratons
Robert et al., 2005

Boddington Deposit a case of domestic blindness

Robert et al., 2006

Perth Boddington


The Boddington Gold Mine

>26Moz Au (past production + resource) >800Kt Cu appreciable amounts of Mo Wandoo deposit (basement resource) is the largest undeveloped Au resource in Australia

The Boddington Gold Mine previous models

Archaean porphyry Au-Cu-Mo deposit
synchronous with intrusion of host diorites pre-metamorphic Roth, 1992 - unpublished PhD. Based on alteration and geochemical studies

Au postdates host intrusions by 30-80Ma

associated with regional transcurrent shearing event and brittle faulting post-peak t k metamorphic t hi Allibone et al., 1998 based on limited geochronology and structural paragenesis


Hotham metasediments, metavolcanics Wells Formation dacite-andesitediorites Marradong Formation basalt and dolerite.

McCuaig et al. (2001)

Eastern Diorite ca. 2675 Ma Wouhraming Monzogranite ca. 2612 Ma BGM diorite suite ca. 2700 Ma Several generations of post-Archaean dolerite intrusion


McCuaig et al. (2001)


Size of Hydrothermal System

2 km
Mineralized Area Open pit mines
McCuaig et al. (2001)

AuAu -Cu Cu-Mo Mo-Bi

100*100m grid @ BOX

Stage I: quartz-sulphide veins

2707+/2707+/ -17 Ma (Re (Re-Os)

Associated with early Diorite Suite low metal values, dominantly Mo Contain Au
McCuaig et al. (2001); Stein et al (2001)


Post regional cleavage: Quartz-albite-sulphide veins

Complex mineralogy postdate regional cleavage

locally strongly deformed near D4 shear zones

Dominant control on molybdenite distribution in the deposit crosscut D3 shear zones and 2675 Ma host rocks

2616+/2616+/ -12 Ma (Re (Re-Os)

McCuaig et al. (2001); Stein et al (2001)

Stage II: Clinozoisite-sulphide-quartz veins and actinolite-sulphide veins

(1) associated with late brittle-ductile faults (2) Cz-sx - control the bulk of lowgrade Au-Cu mineralisation (3) Act-Sx control high grade Au (4) Cut regional foliation
McCuaig et al. (2001)


Roth, 1992

Allibone et al., 1988 McCuaig et al., 2001

McCuaig et al. (2001)

Camp-Scale Metal Zonation

Late monzogranite at surface

2 km

2 km

PbPb -Zn

AuAu -CuCu-MoMo-Bi
McCuaig et al. (2001)


P-T-X Hydrothermal Fluids

Exsolution of volatile phase from magma (>600oC, 60 eq. wt% NaCl, 0.6 to 0.15 kbars) Cooling and transient depressurisation; boiling over large P-T range (300-550oC, 0.16 to 0.15 kbars) synchronous with AuCu-Mo mineralization Incursion of surface waters (150300oC, <10 wt% NaCl), collapse of system (not shown) CO2-H2O-CH4 fluid (300oC, <10 q wt% NaCl) )p phase wt% eq. immiscibility

McCuaig et al. (2001)

2612 +/-10 Ma (U-Pb) Monzogranite as a source of fluid and metals?

Kspar phyric monzogranite evenly textured and barren Core AuAu-Cu Cu-Mo mineralization Locally, is extensively altered with large textural variation (miarolitic cavities, pegmatite, aplite). These zones contain alteration similar to ore zones 2Km
McCuaig et al. (2001)

K-spar phyric monzogranite evenly textured and barren Locally, extensively altered similar to ore zones miarolitic cavities, pegmatite, aplite Minor magnetite, titanite = oxidised Disseminated pyrite, chalcopyrite Molybdenite in veins


Boddington: Boddington : Host Rocks

Porphyry CuCu-Au

IntrusionIntrusion -related

Late Monzogranites Monzogranites: : Oxidized, fractionated Overlap with IntrusionIntrusionrelated suites in Eastern Australia (e.g., Timbarra, Timbarra, Kidston) Kidston ) (Blevin Blevin) ) Early Diorites: Less oxidized, less fractionated Overlap with AuAu-Bi Bi-type IntrusionIntrusion -related suites of Alaska/ Yukon (Baker)


AuAu -Bi (Baker)

McCuaig et al. (2001)

Laser ICP-MS analyses Melt Inclusions late monzogranite

Laser ICPICP-MS spectra
10000 9000 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 0.25 4.65 9.04 13.4 17.8 22.2 26.6 31 35.4 39.8 44.2 48.6 53 57.4 61.7 66.1 70.5 74.9 79.3 83.7 88.1 92.5 96.9 101 106 110 114 119
Cu65 Zn66 Mo98 Ag109 W184 Au197 Pb208 Bi209 U238

Melt inclusion 20 microns

Zn Au

Cu Pb

Hagemann et al. (2007)


McCuaig et al. (2001)

Boddington Summary
Boddington is a result of two superimposed
magmatic g hydrothermal y systems y ca. 2700 Ma, synchronous with emplacement of host diorites (Stage I: ?Au-Bi intrusion-related? or porphyry Cu-Au MINOR) ca. 2612 Ma, coeval with intraplate monzogranites (Stage II: intrusion-related style MAJOR)

Kilometre-scale metal footprint Melt inclusions of 2612 Ma monzogranites contain

Au-Cu-Mo and Pb-Zn


Analogous deposits elsewhere in Archean? Superior Province?

Perth Boddington

So we know many styles possible!

Therefore, how do we overcome limitations of models?

Goldfarb et al. (2005)


Deposit model versus Mineral System approaches

Deposit models based on finding geological characteristics interpreted to be favourable for mineralisation in known deposits
E.g. Differentiated dolerite in Yilgarn

Mineral Systems based on finding evidence for interpreted critical mineralising processes
E.g. Olympic Dam

Olympic Dam a mineral system approach

WMC model focused on : Underlying oxidized and altered basalts th t would that ld release l C Cu (S (Source) ) Major lineaments that could have tapped copper-bearing fluids (Pathway) Magnetic and gravity highs potentially indicative of alteration and metal accumulation (Physical throttle) Reduced sedimentary rock packages (Scrubber)


Take home message

people often focus on differences between styles of mineral deposits deposits. In exploration, you want to focus on the common features between mineral systems! Be permissive, allow for multiple possible models