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Abstract

The Bald Mountain volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit of Early Ordovician age in northern Maine contains 30 million metric tons (Mt) of Cu-Zn-Au-Ag sulfides. It is exceptionally well preserved, lacking penetrative deformation, and having experienced only prehnite-pumpellyite–grade regional metamorphism. The deposit occurs within a homoclinal west-dipping volcanic sequence that consists of, from bottom to top, basalt and basaltic andesite, crystal-poor rhyolite ignimbrite, massive sulfide and related units, crystal-rich rhyolite ignimbrite and intercalated andesite, carbonaceous argillite, and rhyolitic volcaniclastic rocks. Basalts stratigraphically below the massive sulfide are intruded by an elongate body of tonalite-plagiogranite; gabbros intrude rocks both above and below the massive sulfides. The basal contact of the host volcanic sequence is believed to be a thrust with underlying Middle Ordovician clastic sedimentary rocks; the upper contact is depositional with the Middle to Upper Ordovician Winterville Formation and, in places, with Silurian conglomerates.

Ordovician synvolcanic faults that predominantly strike 025°, 050° to 060°, 325° to 335°, and 350° formed a small (320 × 275 m) synvolcanic graben in which as much as 215 m of massive sulfide accumulated. Hydrothermal solutions utilized these faults as fluid conduits, causing structurally controlled epidote and silica alteration in the deep footwall. Structurally controlled alteration is also indicated by the presence of magnetic low areas in mafic rocks up to 1 km below the deposit. Movement of zinc- and copper-rich fluids was controlled by the location of the Ordovician faults. Zinc-rich fluids were concentrated along faults that bound the northern, western, and southern sides of the small graben; copper-rich fluids moved along faults that define the eastern side of the graben. Rocks overlying the massive sulfide body show little evidence of the growth faulting that occurred within and below the deposit, indicating that most extensional deformation ceased shortly after exhalative sulfide deposition. Synvolcanic Ordovician faulting and graben formation are the principal causes for the small lateral dimensions of the Bald Mountain deposit relative to those of most VMS deposits of comparable tonnage.

Postsulfide deformational events occurred in the Late Ordovician to Early Silurian when rocks hosting the Bald Mountain deposit were thrust over Ordovician clastic sedimentary rocks and in the Early Devonian when Acadian faulting and folding segmented the deposit and tilted it to the west.

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