Sulfur isotopic zonation in the Cadia district, southeastern Australia: exploration significance and implications for the genesis of alkalic porphyry gold - copper deposits
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Wilson, AJ and Cooke, DR and Harper, BJ and Deyell, C, Sulfur isotopic zonation in the Cadia district, southeastern Australia: exploration significance and implications for the genesis of alkalic porphyry gold - copper deposits, Mineralium Deposita, 42, (5) pp. 465-487. ISSN 0026-4598 (2007) [Refereed Article]
The alkalic porphyry gold-copper deposits of the Cadia district occur in the eastern Lachlan Fold Belt of New South Wales, Australia. The district comprises four porphyry deposits (Ridgeway, Cadia Quarry, Cadia Hill, and Cadia East) and two iron-copper-gold skarn deposits (Big Cadia and Little Cadia). Almost 1,000 tonnes of contained gold and more than four million tonnes of copper have been discovered in these systems, making Cadia the world's largest known alkalic porphyry district, in terms of contained gold. Porphyry gold-copper ore at Cadia is associated with quartz monzonite intrusive complexes, and is hosted by central stockwork and sheeted quartz-sulfide-(carbonate) vein systems. The Cadia porphyry deposits are characterized by cores of potassic and/or calc-potassic alteration assemblages, and peripheral halos of propylitic alteration, with late-stage phyllic alteration mostly restricted to fault zones. Hematite dusting is an important component of the propylitic alteration assemblage, and has produced a distinctive reddening of feldspar minerals in the volcanic wall rocks around the mineralized centers. Sulfide mineralization is strongly zoned at Ridgeway and Cadia East, with bornite-rich cores surrounded by chalcopyrite-rich halos and peripheral zones of pyrite mineralization. The Cadia Hill and Cadia Quarry deposits have chalcopyrite-rich cores and pyrite-rich halos, and Cadia Hill contains a high-level bornite-rich zone. Distinctive sulfur isotopic zonation patterns have been identified at Ridgeway, Cadia Hill, and Cadia East. The deposit cores are characterized by low δ 34S sulfide values (-10 to -4‰), consistent with sulfide precipitation from an oxidized (sulfate-predominant) magmatic fluid at 450 to 400°C. Pyrite grains that occur in the propylitic alteration halos typically have δ 34S sulfide values near 0‰. There is a gradual increase in δ 34S sulfide values outwards from the deposit cores through the propylitic halos. Water-rock interaction during propylitic alteration caused magmatic sulfate reduction and concomitant oxidation of ferrous iron-bearing minerals, resulting in enrichment of 34S in pyrite and also producing the distinctive reddened, hematite-rich alteration halos to the Cadia deposits. These results show that sulfur isotope analyses have potential applications in the exploration of alkalic porphyry-style deposits, with zones of depleted δ 34S sulfide values most prospective for high-grade mineralization. © Springer-Verlag 2007.
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