Abstract

Tourmaline and chlorite are the principal ferromagnesian silicate minerals in the Kidd Creek massive sulphide deposit. Tourmaline is most common in sphalerite-rich peripheral margins of the chalcopyrite stringer zone. Within the north orebody, samples typically contain <1% tourmaline, but small areas (hand-specimen scale) may have 10–20%. Chlorite is more widely distributed and in places constitutes 30–50% of rock volumes. Associated assemblages may include quartz, sulphides (principally chalcopyrite, sphalerite, and (or) pyrite), carbonate, albite, sericite, and rare fluorite, allanite, or zoisite(?).The tourmalines and chlorites record a series of multiple hydrothermal and metamorphic events. Paragenetic studies suggest that tourmaline was deposited during several discrete stages of mineralization, as evidenced by brecciation and cross-cutting relationships. Most of the tourmalines have two concentric growth zones defined by different colours (green, brown, blue, yellow). Some tourmalines also display pale discordant rims that cross-cut and embay the inner growth zones and polycrystalline, multiple-extinction domains. Late sulphide veinlets (chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite) transect the inner growth zones and pale discordant rims of many crystals. The concentric growth zones are interpreted as primary features developed by the main ore-forming hydrothermal system, whereas the discordant rims, polycrystalline domains, and cross-cutting sulphide veinlets reflect post-ore metamorphic processes.Detailed electron microprobe analyses of tourmalines show a wide compositional range, from Fe-rich dravite nearly to end-member schorl, with Fe/(Fe + Mg) ratios varying from 0.33 to 0.92; only minor amounts of Ca are present, yielding uniformly high Na/(Na + Ca) ratios of 0.84–0.99. Two sets of chemical zoning trends are identified in the tourmalines, involving systematic changes in Fe/(Fe + Mg), Na/(Na + Ca), Al, and Ti that are believed to reflect internal coupled substitutions (e.g.,  + Ti = Na + Al) and local mineral equilibria (e.g., tourmaline–chlorite). Analyses of the pale discordant reaction rims show consistent depletion of Fe, Ca, and Ti, presumably by fluid–solid reactions during post-ore metamorphism.Chlorites also show an extensive range in composition, from ripidolite nearly to end-member daphnite, with Fe/(Fe + Mg) ratios of 0.43–0.98 and Si cation values of 5.00–5.39. Chlorites from the fringes of the footwall stringer zone have narrow compositional ranges, whereas chlorites near footwall rhyolite sills in the core of the stringer zone display major variations in Fe/(Fe + Mg) ratios, including one sample with a range of 0.68–0.95. The former group of chlorites has Fe/(Fe + Mg) ratios that correlate well with those of coexisting tourmalines (exclusive of late reaction rims). Data for the latter group, in contrast, fall off equilibrium KD curves, indicating that the tourmalines and chlorites within these samples are not in chemical equilibrium. The chlorites are believed to have been altered (overprinted) by Fe-rich hydrothermal fluids apparently generated during intrusion of the rhyolite sills. The tourmalines, however, are unaffected and retain primary chemical signatures.Variations in mineral proportions and mineral chemistry within the deposit mainly depend on fluctuations in temperature, pH, water/rock ratios, and amounts of entrained seawater. The major proposed control is mixing between high-temperature, Fe-rich end-member hydrothermal fluids and cold, Mg-rich entrained seawater. Fe/(Fe + Mg) variations in footwall tourmalines (and equilibrium chlorites) are believed to largely reflect the progressive infiltration of Mg-rich seawater into the margins and top of the hydrothermal system. The more Fe-rich compositions of Kidd Creek tourmalines relative to those from sediment-hosted massive sulphide deposits (e.g., Sullivan, British Columbia) may be related to the preferential generation of end-member hydrothermal fluids in proximal volcanic environments like that at Kidd Creek.

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