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Genesis and exploration implications of epithermal gold mineralization and porphyry-style alteration at the Endeavour 41 Prospect, Cowal district, New South Wales, Australia


Zukowski, W and Cooke, DR and Deyell, CL and McInnes, P and Simpson, K, Genesis and exploration implications of epithermal gold mineralization and porphyry-style alteration at the Endeavour 41 Prospect, Cowal district, New South Wales, Australia, Economic Geology, 109, (4) pp. 1079-1115. ISSN 0361-0128 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Society of Economic Geologists Inc.

DOI: doi:10.2113/econgeo.109.4.1079


Endeavour 41 is a deep-level, structurally controlled epithermal gold deposit hosted by Early Ordovician subaqueous volcanosedimentary rocks. Calc-alkalic to shoshonitic, mafic to intermediate sills, dikes, and stocks intruded the volcanosedimentary units in the Middle Ordovician. The most felsic intrusions, together with pyroxene-bearing dikes, are temporally related to gold mineralization. Postmineralization intrusions are exclusively of mafic character.

Endeavour 41 evolved from early, high-temperature porphyry-style veins and alteration to lower-temperature epithermal-style gold mineralization. Early magnetite and garnet-bearing veins (stage 1 and 2, respectively) associated with actinolite, magnetite, and biotite-bearing alteration assemblages have been cut by gold-bearing veins and associated alteration assemblages. There were two main epithermal-style gold mineralizing events: (1) quartz-pyrite ± calcite ± adularia ± chlorite veins (stage 3) and (2) carbonate-base metal sulfide veins (calcite, ankerite, quartz, pyrite, sphalerite, galena, chalcopyrite, Ag tellurides, arsenopyrite, apatite, hematite, illite-muscovite, and chlorite [stage 4]). Gold occurs principally as a refractory phase in pyrite. It also occurs as grains of Au-Ag tellurides and as inclusions of free gold in pyrite, sphalerite, and chalcopyrite. Hydrothermal alteration associated with gold-mineralized veins produced early epidote and K-feldspar-epidote–bearing alteration halos and later-stage illite-muscovite-K-feldspar and calcite-rich alteration halos. The highest gold grades are associated with muscovite and illite alteration.

Stable isotope analyses and fluid inclusion data provide evidence of a magmatic-hydrothermal component to the mineralizing fluids. Fluid inclusion data suggest that gold precipitated from boiling saline waters (~9.0 wt % NaCl) at temperatures of about 310°C. Stage 3 veins are estimated to have formed approximately 1 km below the paleosurface at hydrostatic pressure (~90 bars). Stage 4 illite formed at temperatures below ~280°C. Stage 3 calcite has δ13Ccalcite and δ18Ocalcite values that range from −5.2 to −4.6 and from 11.6 to 12.1‰, respectively. Calculated fluids for these mineral values at 300°C (δ13Cfluid = −3‰; δ18Ofluid = 6‰) are consistent with a magmatic-hydrothermal source of carbon and oxygen during stage 3. A component of meteoric waters is inferred for stage 4, because δ13Ccarbonate and δ18Ocarbonate values range from −6.9 to −0.5 and from 10.9 to 30.1‰, respectively, corresponding to δ13Cfluid and δ18Ofluid values of −5 and −2‰ at 200° to 250°C.

The δ34Ssulfide values for early vein stages range between −4.9 and −0.5‰. Stage 3 has δ34Ssulfide values ranging from −5.2 to +0.8‰ with the most 34S enriched values deposited away from the mineralized center. Stage 4 sulfides have isotopic compositions from −7.5 to +2.5‰. The negative isotopic values are consistent with oxidized (sulfate-predominant) magmatic-hydrothermal fluids. Sulfur isotopic zonation patterns show that the most negative δ34S values correlate with gold-enriched domains and also with areas that contain high-temperature, porphyry-style alteration facies. The negative sulfur isotope values define zones of upflow for the mineralizing magmatic-hydrothermal fluids.

The paragenetic history of Endeavour 41 records a transition from deep-level to shallow-level magmatic-hydrothermal activity. This transition implies erosion and unroofing of the system synchronous with mineralization. High-temperature assemblages (e.g., actinolite-magnetite, biotite, and K-feldspar-epidote) indicate that epithermal mineralization occurred proximal to a magmatic-hydrothermal center and that there is potential for the discovery of porphyry copper-gold mineralization below the current level of diamond drilling.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:epithermal, gold, alkalic, isotopes, geochemistry
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Resource geoscience
Objective Division:Mineral Resources (Excl. Energy Resources)
Objective Group:Mineral exploration
Objective Field:Precious (noble) metal ore exploration
UTAS Author:Zukowski, W (Mr Wojciech Zukowski)
UTAS Author:Cooke, DR (Professor David Cooke)
UTAS Author:Deyell, CL (Dr Cari Deyell)
UTAS Author:Simpson, K (Miss Kirsten Simpson)
ID Code:98521
Year Published:2014
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (CE0561595)
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Centre for Ore Deposit Research - CODES CoE
Deposited On:2015-02-18
Last Modified:2017-11-02

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