Facies architecture of the felsic lava-dominated host sequence to the Thalanga massive sulfide deposit, Lower Ordovician, northern Queensland
Paulick, H and McPhie, J, Facies architecture of the felsic lava-dominated host sequence to the Thalanga massive sulfide deposit, Lower Ordovician, northern Queensland, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 46, (3) pp. 391-405. ISSN 0812-0099 (1999) [Refereed Article]
The Thalanga volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposit occurs in the Cambo-Ordovician Mt Windsor Subprovince in northern Queensland. The orebody comprises steeply dipping, stratiform, sheet-like, polymetallic massive sulfide lenses. Overall, the volcanic facies architecture at Thalanga is dominated by quartz- and/or feldspar-phyric lavas and synvolcanic intrusions that comprise coherent facies and in situ and resedimented autoclastic facies. Systematic phenocryst logging (mineralogy, abundance, size) has been used to discriminate separate emplacement units of rhyolite in the footwall and dacite in the hangingwall. Some of the petrographically different rhyolite and dacite types can also be distinguished using immobile-element geochemistry. Rhyolitic lavas and intrusions in the footwall are weakly to strongly altered. Apparent clastic textures resulting from hydrothermal alteration and metamorphism are widely developed in the coherent facies. Genuine clastic textures are characterised by clasts with randomly oriented internal laminar or banded fabric (e.g. rotated, flow-laminated clasts), marked and consistent differences in quartz phenocryst abundance and/or size range between clasts and matrix, and normal grading. Mass-flow-emplaced, rhyolitic breccia units delineate palaeo-sea-floor positions in the footwall that are potentially prospective for exhalative massive sulfide mineralisation. A comparison of the distribution of clastic and coherent facies with the geometry of strongly altered zones in the footwall indicates that intense hydrothermal fluid flow was independent of the facies arrangement. The massive sulfide lenses conformably overly altered footwall rhyolite and occur in a distinctive facies association which includes coarse quartz-phenocryst-rich rhyolitic sills with peperitic contacts and crystal-rich polymictic breccia. The hangingwall to the orebody consists of largely unaltered dacitic lavas and synvolcanic intrusions and minor dacitic pumice breccia, dacitic breccia and polymictic volcanic breccia. The facies architecture shows that the Thalanga massive sulfide deposit formed in a below-storm-wave-base despositional environment on top of an elevated, lava-dominated, rhyolitic volcanic centre. A modern analogue for the setting of the Thalanga massive sulfide is the PACMANUS hydrothermal field on the crest of the dacite lava-dominated Pual Ridge in the eastern Manus backarc basin (Papua New Guinea).