Abstract

The Porcupine District, Abitibi Greenstone Belt is one of the most extensive areas of Archaean auriferous mineralization. At least two stages of lode gold emplacement may be recognized. The first involves gold-bearing ferroan dolomite layers with subordinate chert, sulphides, and graphite deposited as laterally extensive chemical sediments at interflow horizons within the mafic volcanic sequence. The second stage is represented by major gold-bearing hydrothermal quartz–albite–dravite veins which transect diverse host rocks including the carbonate chemical sediments. Differences between gold-bearing chemical sediment and auriferous hydrothermal veins, in terms of texture, mineralogy, and nature of inclusions, together with considerations of chemistry are not compatible with local derivation of veins from enveloping chemical sediments or adjacent host rocks. The chemical sediments display slump structures and predate all tectonic deformation. In general, auriferous hydrothermal quartz veins transect bedding and/or schistosity, and are at a low state of internal strain. They appear to have been emplaced late during the second regional fold episode.Au, Ag, and Pd average 10, 2, and 0.1 ppm respectively in ore types at the Dome mine; representing concentration factors of 10 000,40, and 10 times background values in unmineralized metabasalt, and primary igneous rocks worldwide. Au and Ag are inhomogeneously distributed.Mineralized metabasic rocks adjacent to vein stockworks have Ti/Zr and Ti/Al2O3 ratios comparable to tholeiitic basalts, but display variable enrichment or depletion of silica, systematic depletion in Na2O, and where intensely altered significant extraction of calcium. The low Ni and Cr contents of the carbonate layers, together with low Ti/Zr ratios (43–78) of the carbonates and their enveloping mafic schists, are not consistent with the hypothesis that these auriferous rocks are carbonated ultramafics. Massive banded quartz–fuchsite–dravite veins have Cr and Ni abundances averaging 350 ppm, implying hydrothermal transport of these elements. Ti/Zr ratios of 120, together with high Mg, Cr, and Ni abundances in magnesite–dolomite–quartz– chlorite schists which host the banded veins are compatible with a primary komatiitic composition. Mineralized metabasic rocks are reduced (Fe2+/ΣFe = 0.9) relative to rocks with primary background abundances of precious metals (Fe2+/ΣFe = 0.7). This change of oxidation state implies that large volumes of reducing hydrothermal solutions were involved in vein mineralization.

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