The Watershed tungsten deposit, Northeast Queensland, Australia: Permian metamorphic tungsten mineralization overprinting Carboniferous magmatic tungsten

Poblete, Jaime A., Dirks, Paul H.G.M., Chang, Zhaoshan, Huizenga, Jan Marten, Griessmann, Martin, and Hall, Chris (2021) The Watershed tungsten deposit, Northeast Queensland, Australia: Permian metamorphic tungsten mineralization overprinting Carboniferous magmatic tungsten. Economic Geology. (In Press)

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Abstract

The Watershed tungsten deposit (49.2 Mt avg 0.14% WO3) lies within the Mossman orogen, which comprises deformed Silurian-Ordovician metasedimentary rocks of the Hodgkinson Formation intruded by Carboniferous-Permian granites of the Kennedy Igneous Association. The Hodgkinson Formation in the Watershed area comprises skarn-altered conglomerate, psammite, and slate units that record four deformation events evolving from ductile, isoclinal, colinear folding with transposition (D1–D3) to brittle ductile shear zones (D4). Multiple felsic to intermediate dikes cut across the metasedimentary rocks at Watershed including: (1) Carboniferous, monzonite dikes (zircon U/Pb age of 350 ± 7 Ma) emplaced during D1–2; and (2) Permian granite plutons and dikes (zircon U/Pb ages of 291 ± 6, 277 ± 6, and 274 ± 6 Ma) and diorite (zircon U/Pb age of 281 ± 5 Ma) emplaced during D4. Tungsten mineralization is largely restricted to skarn-altered conglomerate, which preserves a peak metamorphic mineralogy formed during ductile deformation and comprises garnet (Grt40–87 Alm0–35Sps1–25Adr0–16), actinolite, quartz, clinopyroxene (Di36–59Hd39–61Jhn1–5), and titanite. A first mineralization event corresponds to the crystallization of disseminated scheelite in monzonite dikes (pre-D3) and adjacent units, with scheelite grains aligned in the S1–2 fabric and affected by D3 folding. This event enriched the Hodgkinson Formation in tungsten. The bulk of the scheelite mineralization formed during a second event and is concentrated in multistaged, shear-related, quartz-oligoclase-bearing veins and vein halos (muscovite 40Ar-39Ar weighted average age of 276 ± 6 Ma), which were emplaced during D4. The multistage veins developed preferentially in competent, skarn-altered conglomerate units and formed synchronous with four retrograde alteration stages. The retrograde skarn minerals include clinozoisite after garnet, quartz, plagioclase, scheelite, and phlogopite with minor sodium-rich amphibole, which formed during retrograde stages 1 and 2, accompanied by later muscovite, calcite, and chlorite formed during retrograde stage 3. Retrograde stage 4 was a late-tectonic, noneconomic sulfide stage. The principal controls on scheelite mineralization at Watershed were the following: (1) early monzonite dikes enriched in scheelite; (2) D4 shear zones that acted as fluid conduits transporting tungsten from source areas to traps; (3) skarn-altered conglomerate lenses that provide a competent host to facilitate vein formation and a source for calcium to form scheelite; and (4) an extensional depositional environment characterized by vein formation and normal faulting, which provide trapping structures for tungsten-bearing fluids, with decompression being a likely control on scheelite deposition. The coexistence of scheelite with oligoclase in monzonite dikes and veins suggests that tungsten was transported as NaHWO4⁠. Exploration in the area should target Carboniferous monzonite, associated with later syn-D4 shear zones cutting skarn-altered conglomerate.

Item ID: 65209
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1554-0774
Keywords: Watershed Tungsten Deposit; Northeast Queensland; Tungsten Mineralization
Copyright Information: © 2021 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc.
Funders: Geological Survey of Queensland
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2021 01:59
FoR Codes: 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3705 Geology > 370508 Resource geoscience @ 50%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3703 Geochemistry > 370303 Isotope geochemistry @ 25%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3705 Geology > 370511 Structural geology and tectonics @ 25%
SEO Codes: 84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8499 Other Mineral Resources (excl. Energy Resources) > 849999 Mineral Resources (excl. Energy Resources) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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