The Paleozoic Mount Carlton deposit, Bowen Basin, Northeast Australia: shallow high-sulfidation epithermal Au-Ag-Cu mineralization formed during rifting

Sahlström, Fredrik, Dirks, Paul, Chang, Zhaoshan, Arribas, Antonio, Corral, Isaac, Obiri-Yeboah, Matthew, and Hall, Chris (2018) The Paleozoic Mount Carlton deposit, Bowen Basin, Northeast Australia: shallow high-sulfidation epithermal Au-Ag-Cu mineralization formed during rifting. Economic Geology, 113 (8). pp. 1733-1767.

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Abstract

Mount Carlton is a Paleozoic high-sulfidation epithermal deposit located in the northern segment of the Bowen Basin, northeast Queensland, Australia. The deposit is hosted in Early Permian volcanic and sedimentary rocks, and an open-pit mining operation includes the Au-rich V2 pit in the northeast and the Ag-rich A39 pit in the southwest. Mineralization at Mt. Carlton occurred during active rifting, partly contemporaneously with the deposition of volcanic sediments in localized half-graben and graben basins. Steep normal faults and fracture networks related to the rifting acted as fluid conduits and localized cores of silicic alteration. The silicic cores transition outward to zones of quartz-alunite alteration, which are, in turn, enveloped by a zone of quartz-dickite-kaolinite alteration. Epithermal mineralization at Mt. Carlton developed in three stages: Cu-Au-Ag mineralization dominated by enargite was overprinted by Zn-Pb-Au-Ag mineralization dominated by sphalerite, which, in turn, was overprinted by Cu-Au-Ag mineralization dominated by tennantite. Proximal Au-Cu mineralization in the V2 pit occurs in networks of steep faults associated with veins and hydrothermal breccias within a massive rhyodacite porphyry. Three distinct ore zones (Eastern, Western, and Link) are aligned, en echelon, along a broadly E trending corridor. The Western ore zone continues along ~600-m strike length to the southwest into the A39 pit, and it shows a metal zonation, from proximal to distal, of Au-Cu → Cu-Zn-Pb-Ag → Ag-Pb-(Cu) → Ag. Distal Ag mineralization in the A39 pit is concentrated in a volcanolacustrine sedimentary sequence that overlies the rhyodacite porphyry. It occurs in a stratabound position oriented parallel to primary sedimentary layering and locally exhibits synsedimentary ore textures. Such textures are interpreted to have formed as mineralizing fluids discharged into what most likely were lakes developed within localized rift basins, at the same time that the volcanolacustrine sediments were deposited. At depth, equivalent ore textures were produced within open spaces in the structural roots of the rift basins. 40Ar/39Ar dating of hydrothermal alunite yielded an age range of 284 ± 7 to 277 ± 7 Ma, which links the formation of the Mt. Carlton deposit to the Early Permian back-arc rifting stage in the Bowen Basin. Prolonged extension provided rapid burial of the deposit beneath a postmineralization, volcanosedimentary cover, which was essential for the exceptional preservation of Mt. Carlton. The same extension caused displacement of the rock pile along a series of shallowly dipping detachment faults and segmentation and rotation of the ore zones across steeply dipping normal faults. This deformation would have displaced any underlying porphyry mineralization relative to the current location of Mt. Carlton.

Item ID: 57160
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1554-0774
Copyright Information: © 2018 Economic Geology Gold Open Access: This article is published under the terms of the CC-BY 3.0 license.
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 07:36
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040307 Ore Deposit Petrology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8401 Mineral Exploration > 840105 Precious (Noble) Metal Ore Exploration @ 100%
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