The Halfmile Lake South Deep zone, Bathurst Mining Camp, New Brunswick, was discovered by Noranda Inc. (Exploration) as a result of a 3-D seismic survey in 1998 and the subsequent drilling of ten diamond-drill cores. The deposit consists of massive, breccia, and stockwork Pb-Zn-Cu sulfide minerals, and is hosted by a volcano-sedimentary sequence belonging to the overturned Ordovician Tetagouche Group. Epiclastic rocks and interbedded fine-grained felsic pyroclastic rocks dominate the stratigraphic footwall. Locally, crystal-rich felsic tuffs and subordinate epiclastic rocks comprise the immediate stratigraphic hanging wall. The entire stratigraphic sequence was intruded by quartz-feldspar porphyritic intrusions, and cut by intermediate and basic dikes. The volcanic and sedimentary rocks can be discriminated geochemically using trace element ratios such as Zr/TiO2 and Nb/TiO2, despite intensive alteration and cleavage development. These ratios indicate that four protolith volcanic compositions exist: rhyolite, dacite, andesite, and basalt. The aphyric and feldspar- and quartzphyric volcanic rocks are dacitic and rhyolitic in composition; epiclastic rocks have trace element ratios consistent with dacitic compositions.
Pearce element ratio diagrams, general element ratio diagrams, and petrographic observations demonstrate that the rhyolitic volcanic rocks exhibit evidence of albite, potassium feldspar, and quartz fractionation, dacitic volcanic rocks exhibit little evidence of any fractionation, and epiclastic sedimentary rocks exhibit evidence of quartz sorting only. Hydrothermal alteration is best represented by the presence of phengitic muscovite and daphnitic chlorite. Minor calcite occurs in the stratigraphic hanging wall, deep in the stratigraphic footwall, and in post-mineralization dikes, and thus is not interpreted to be part of the causative hydrothermal event.
Element additions and losses during alteration have been used to determine net alteration reactions, and these have been used to identify alteration parameters that are independent of other forms of alteration and fractionation/sorting, and which can be used to guide exploration. These parameters include: a bulk hydrolysis measure, (2Ca+Na+K–2CO2)/Al; a muscovite alteration measure, K/Al; an albite destruction measure, Na/Al; a chlorite alteration measure, (Fe+Mg–S/2)/Al; a chlorite composition measure, (Fe–S/2)/Mg; a sulfidization measure, S/Ti; and a carbonatization measure, CO2/Ti. With the exception of the carbonatization measure, these alteration parameters define a distinct lateral and vertical zone of intense hydrothermal alteration in the stratigraphic footwall of the deposit, and demonstrate that the epiclastic rocks are predominantly chlorite altered, and the volcanic rocks are predominantly muscovite altered. Within the alteration halo, element additions of Fe and H, and element losses of Na are characteristic. Potassium was added to muscovite-altered rocks, but subsequently removed from chlorite-altered rocks. The results from this study demonstrate that metamorphism and deformation have not significantly obscured hydrothermal alteration signatures.