Abstract

The Three Bluffs gold deposit is located in the Committee Bay greenstone belt, which forms part of the Rae domain of the western Churchill province, Nunavut, Canada. Gold mineralization is hosted by iron formation of the Neoarchean volcanosedimentary Prince Albert Group, and is associated with silicification (quartz veining) and sulfidation of magnetite and other Fe-rich minerals.

Conventional U-Pb zircon dating of a conformable dacite unit within the volcanosedimentary host-rock sequence and a crosscutting diorite intrusion confirm a ~2.7 Ga age for deposition of the supracrustal package.

U-Pb monazite dates and Pb isotopic analyses of sulfides were obtained by laser ablation–multicollector–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS). A subset of U-Pb monazite (1813.8 ± 8.7 Ma) and Re-Os arsenopyrite (1822 ± 21 Ma) dates, combined with a Pb-Pb secondary errorchron age for pyrite and arsenopyrite (1829 ± 77 Ma), suggest that gold mineralization associated with sulfidation of the iron formation occurred at ~1815 Ma, prior to high-grade (upper amphibolite facies) tectonometamorphism in the Three Bluffs area (D2TB/(M2TB).

An ~1815 Ma age for deposit formation is broadly consistent with evidence from elsewhere in the western Churchill province and to the southwest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan for a late Trans-Hudson (1.9–1.8 Ga) gold mineralizing event. The majority of U-Pb monazite ages form a second population at 1780.6 ± 4.2 Ma, similar to the age of the majority of Re-Os arsenopyrite analyses (1763 ± 11 Ma). These dates are thought to reflect the timing of peak M2TB metamorphism. 40Ar/39Ar dating of amphibole, biotite, and muscovite yielded plateau ages ranging from 1723.8 ± 9.0 Ma to 1710 ± 17 Ma, which are interpreted to record the timing of postpeak metamorphic cooling to below the respective closure temperatures for Ar diffusion in these minerals.

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