Alkali alteration styles and mechanisms and their implications for a 'brine factory' source of base metals in the rift-related McArthur Group, Australia
Davidson, GJ, Alkali alteration styles and mechanisms and their implications for a 'brine factory' source of base metals in the rift-related McArthur Group, Australia, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 45, (1) pp. 33-50. ISSN 0812-0099 (1998) [Refereed Article]
McArthur Group alkali metasomatism occurred in several phases, none of which fit a classic model of alkali-mineral zonation towards an evaporitic basin centre as previously proposed. They comprise: (i) trough-margin alteration along the Emu Fault Zone, formed by gravity-driven meteoric-evaporitic brines sourced from adjacent shelves, and focused up to 3.5 km out into the adjacent deeper water clastic succession of the Barney Creek Formation; these formed zoned albite-microcline assemblages, variably overprinted by B-bearing illite; (II) ore-related alteration at the HYC Zn-Pb-Ag deposit, which overprinted trough-margin alteration in places, adding disseminated ankerite, adularia and base-metal sulfides to some feldspathised beds; (iii) early diagenetic alkali metasomatism that was associated with descending/advecting brines sourced from overlying evaporite sequences, and transmitted through porous clastic sediments (e.g. parts of the Lynott Formation, Mara Dolomite and Tatoolla Sandstone); and (iv) extensive inversion-related K-feldspar metasomatism of volcaniclastic beds towards the basin centre. The descending/advecting brine model (iii) has implications for sedimentary Zn-Pb ore genesis in the basin, because it offers a mechanism to efficiently deliver batches of saline fluid into the deep diagenetic environment/resulting in alkali alteration and metal leaching, and the production of ideal Zn-Pb-fransporting ore fluids. A variation in the flux of saline diagenetic water, caused by eustatically and technically driven aridity cycles in sedimentary facies, could have imposed strong episodicity on the formation of related Zn-Pb deposits. This speculative model is relevant to metals exploration on the premise that each 'brine factory' potentially gave rise to a related cycle of Zn-Pb ore deposition at the same or an overlying stratigraphic level.