ABSTRACT

The Racecourse Cu-Au porphyry prospect is found within the Macquarie Arc of the Lachlan Fold Belt, in the Lachlan Transverse Zone, a cross-arc structure hosting significant world-class mineralization, including the Cadia and Northparks districts. Several geochemical and geophysical surveys of the prospect have been complimented by a total of 19,819 m of drilling, with only four holes reaching a depth greater than 300 m. Positive lithogeochemistry (fertility indices, comparisons with the Cadia and Northparks systems) subtle alteration, and mineralized intercepts indicate heightened mineral potential, yet the prospect has lacked a comprehensive geochemical survey outlining the extent of the mineralized target at surface. Soil samples and Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) tree cores were collected above and distal to mineralization intercepted by prior drilling in order to outline the ore deposit footprint and test the viability of dendrogeochemistry as an exploration tool for porphyry Cu mineralization. Ultimately, this study documented the spatial extent of the Racecourse target and identified potential areas for additional Cu mineralization. Soil samples were separated with the <250 μm size fraction analyzed and show distinct anomalous populations of Au, Cu, Mo, Pb, and Zn above prior drilling. Tree cores were collected by increment borer and tree rings of the Pinus radiata were counted and measured, with an age interval of 2003–2008 exhibiting the least ring-width variability chosen to chemically analyze. Selected intervals were digested and analyzed and have elevated Cu, Mo, and Zn in an area that overlaps a previously drilled soil anomaly, whereas an anomaly in the southwest of the survey area documents a Cu, Pb anomaly corresponding to localized faulting and tertiary basalt subcrop. Tree roots are directly tapping chemical variability at depth, aided via metal mobilization through faulted fluid conduits. Lead isotope ratios from the Pinus radiata identify distinct groups of lead spatially associated with discrete metal anomalies of varied lithological ages. At the Racecourse target, anomalous Pinus radiata samples yield a similar isotopic signature to the faulted southwestern anomaly, potentially linking the source of these two metal anomalies. When these results are integrated with the current understanding of the mineralized body, geochemical media suggest that mineralization may continue down-plunge at depth.

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