Small-scale alteration pipes and stratiform alteration in Archean glomeroporphyritic tholeiitic basalts at Atik Lake, Manitoba, stratigraphically underlie silicate-oxide banded iron formation (BIF) and auriferous sulfide-bearing chert. The auriferous chert is locally interbedded with graphitic argillite, indicating euxinic conditions during deposition. Cordierite–gedrite rocks formed by recrystallization of alteration assemblages during the lower amphibolite-facies metamorphism (T = 550 °C, P = 2.5 kbar). Al2O3, TiO2, Zr, and Nb, which were relatively immobile during alteration, have been used to monitor igneous differentiation and alteration. Volcanogenic hydrothermal alteration resulted in depletion of Ca, Si, Mg, Na, and Sr in the altered basalt and the addition of K, Fe, Rb, and Ba. This was accompanied by mass and volume losses of up to 25%. The mineralizing fluid was reducing and somewhat acidic. Rare-earth-element (REE) profiles of BIF and graphitic argillite, normalized to Archean shale, are less steep ((La/Lu)N = 0.51 and 0.49 respectively), than those of both mineralized chert ((La/Lu)N = 0.04) and recent sea-floor, siliceous, gold-enriched massive sulfides ((La/Lu)N = 0.11). REE profiles and Boström's plot suggest that the auriferous, sulfide-bearing chert formed by mixing of hydrothermal and detrital components. The overall chemical changes in the Atik Lake alteration system are comparable to those in Noranda-type massive-sulfide deposits. The trace-metal association in the auriferous chert is similar to that at some modern sea-floor hydrothermal sites.

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