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Stratiform Deposits (Sulphide, Oxide Deposits) of Sedimentary and

Volcanic Environment


Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Bahria University, Islamabad

In stratiform deposits, there is a predominance of stratified bodies
that are conformable with the enclosing rocks. The ores in these bodies have
simplemineral compositions determined by the dissemination of copper, zinc,
and lead sulfides and the accompanying minerals in one or more strata of
the orebearing rocks. Stratiform deposits are generally of large size, cover a
broad area, and form vast ore regions or provinces (for example, the
MississippiValley lead and zinc deposits).
Several hypotheses have been advanced on the origin of stratiform deposits.
In the view of such geologists as E. Zakharov and K. Satpaev of the USSR,C.
Behre of the USA, and C. Davidson of Great Britain, stratiform deposits are of
hydrothermal origin. This hypothesis, however, is contradicted by
theabsence of magmatic rocks in the areas where the stratiform deposits are
found. Another hypothesis, whose adherents include V. Popov and V.Domarev
of the USSR and H. Gruszczyk of Poland, regards stratiform deposits as
sedimentary formations that arose from marine sediments on thebottoms of
ancient seas together with the enclosing rock strata. This view is
contradicted by the presence of cross-cutting ore veins along with thebedded
ore bodies.
Hydrothermal mineral deposits are the products of crustal geochemical
processes that extract metals from source regions and concentrate them at
depositional sites. These processes and the regions in which they occur
constitute 'mineral systems'. Processes that occur within source regions
define the characteristics (e.g. temperature, pressure, pH, salinity, redox,
sulphur content) of hydrothermal fluid s, which, in turn, determine the metal
carrying capacity of the fluid. Mineral deposits that contain Cu, Zn, Pb, Ag
and/or Au can be classified into three general groupings based on metal
assemblages: (I) Zn-Pb-AgAu , (2) CuAu , and (3) AuAg. In terms of zinc,
lead, and silver lnetal endowment, the Proterozoic sedimentary basins of

northern Australia rank number one in the world. The Mt. Isa-McArthur basin
system hosts five supergiant, stratiform, sedimentary rock-hosted Zn-Pb-Ag
deposits (McArthur River, Century, Mt. Isa, Hilton, and George Fisher) and
one supergiant strata-bound Ag-Pb-Zn deposit (Cannington). These
superbasins consist of units deposited during tlwee nested cycles of
deposition and occurred in the period from 1800 to 1580 Ma. The cycles took
place in response to far-field extension and subsidence associated with a
major northward dipping subduction zone in central Australia. All major
stratiform zinc-dominant deposits occur within rocks of the sag phase of the
youngest Isa superbasin, which was deposited between 1670 and 1580 Ma.
Volcanic-associated massive sulfide (VMS) deposits range from lens
shaped to sheet-like bodies of sulfide-mineralrich rock spatially associated
with volcanic rocks ranging in composition from basalt to rhyolite. VMS
deposits can be divided into three general categories. Cyprus-type deposits
tend to be small, medium-grade deposits rich in copper and zinc. They are
generally lens or mound shaped accumulations of massive pyrite developed
in ophiolite-related, extrusive basalt sequences. They are typically underlain
by copper-rich "stringer-zones" composed of anastomosing quartz-sulfide
mineral veins in extensively chloritized basalt. Kuroko deposits are
typically developed in intermediate to felsic volcanic rock and are generally
interpreted to have formed in extensional environments associated with arc
volcanism. They are commonly high grade and can be very large. Relative to
Cyprus-type deposits, they generally have much higher contents of zinc,
lead, silver, and antimony, which reflect the composition of their felsic
volcanic host rocks. They also have moundlike morphology and the
abundance of coarse clastic sulfide minerals within many of these deposits
attests to a moderately high energy, seafloor depositional setting. Kurokotype deposits also tend to be underlain by copper-rich stringer zones and
commonly have well developed geochemical zonation with progressive zinc,
lead, and silver enrichment both vertically and laterally away from vent

centers. Besshi-type deposits are present in mixed volcanic-sedimentary

environments. Deposits of this type are commonly hosted by turbidites that
have been intruded by basaltic sills. These deposits are typically copper-rich
and contain small abundances of lead and other lithophile elements. In
contrast to other volcanic-hosted deposits, many Besshi-type deposits form
thin, laterally extensive sheets of pyrrhotite- and (or) pyrite-rich massive
sulfide rock; however, the characteristics of Besshi-type deposits vary
considerably. Slack (1993) presents an expanded definition of Besshi-type
deposits that includes deposits such as those in the Ducktown, Tenn., district
and the large Windy Craggy deposit in British Columbia.