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Evidence for an intrabasinal source and multiple concentration processes in the formation of the carbon leader reef, Witwatersrand Supergroup, South Africa


Large, RR and Meffre, S and Burnett, R and Guy, B and Bull, S and Gilbert, S and Goemann, K and Danyushevsky, L, Evidence for an intrabasinal source and multiple concentration processes in the formation of the carbon leader reef, Witwatersrand Supergroup, South Africa, Economic Geology, 108, (6) pp. 1215-1241. ISSN 0361-0128 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 Society of Economic Geologists

DOI: doi:10.2113/econgeo.108.6.1215


Laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS) trace element maps of pyrite and gold from the Carbon Leader Reef in the Witwatersrand basin provide new evidence that a significant proportion of the pyrite and gold was intrabasinal, derived from the West Rand Group or equivalent shales stratigraphically below this reef. Rounded detrital pyrite grains in the Carbon Leader Reef vary from compact to porous to sooty, with similar textures and composition to diagenetic pyrites reported from sedimentary rocks in the West Rand Group. Detrital porous and sooty pyrites contain 0.4 to 11.3 ppm solid-solution gold, sulfur isotope δ34S values from -17 to +16%, and high levels of As and Te, plus a wide range of other trace elements (in decreasing order: Ni, Co, Sb, Cr, Cu, U, Pb, Bi, Mo, Zn and Ag). The sooty pyrite is the most Au, Te, and Mo rich and is intergrown with alumino-silicates and organic matter. The detrital pyrite textures, S-isotopes and geochemistry resemble diagenetic pyrite developed under suboxic to anoxic bottom water conditions. The LAICP-MS maps also show that the detrital pyrite grains have euhedral hydrothermal pyrite overgrowths containing micro-inclusions of gold, brannerite, and Ni-As sulfides. The pyrite overgrowths are also enriched in solid-solution gold, tellurium, and other trace elements including, in decreasing order, As, Co, Ni, Cr, Cu, Mn, Pb, Bi, and Ag. Fractured and brecciated pyrite associated with brittle bedding-parallel fracture zones in the Carbon Leader Reef are also enriched in these elements due to alteration of pyrite surrounding the fractures. Laser ICP-MS Pb isotope determinations on the cores of detrital pyrite indicate an age between 2750 and 2950 Ma with hydrothermal overgrowths originating between 2100 and 2020 Ma incorporating highly radiogenic Pb. This study demonstrates that both of the two competing theories for the origin of the Witwatersrand gold reefs are likely to be correct. We suggest that the hydrothermal event was widespread (kilometer scale) and involved basinal fluids that scavenged gold, tellurium, arsenic, and trace elements (Co, Ni, Cr, Cu, Mn, Pb, Bi, Ag) from gold-bearing sedimentary units in the Central Rand Group. © 2013 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
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:Large, RR (Professor Ross Large)
UTAS Author:Meffre, S (Dr Sebastien Meffre)
UTAS Author:Bull, S (Dr Stuart Bull)
UTAS Author:Gilbert, S (Ms Sarah Gilbert)
UTAS Author:Goemann, K (Dr Karsten Goemann)
UTAS Author:Danyushevsky, L (Professor Leonid Danyushevsky)
ID Code:87889
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:Centre for Ore Deposit Research - CODES CoE
Deposited On:2013-12-14
Last Modified:2014-05-20

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