Abstract

The original Aldermac mine near Noranda contained several Cu–Zn massive sulfide lenses hosted by felsic to mafic volcanic rocks of the late Archean Blake River Group. The original Nos. 3–6 orebodies, which consisted of massive pyrite, with lesser magnetite, pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, and sphalerite, contained 1.87 Mt of Cu–Zn ore that averaged 1.47% Cu (Zn was not recovered). The orebodies occurred within felsic breccias and tuffs up to 100 m thick that are stratigraphically overlain by an extensive dome of mainly massive rhyolite and rhyodacite (up to 250 m thick and at least 550 m across). Most of the volcanic rocks that laterally flank and overlie the felsic dome are dacitic to andesitic flows, breccia, and tuff, with minor rhyolites, and associated subvolcanic sills of quartz-feldspar porphyry and gabbro.The new massive sulfide deposit, discovered in 1988, lies 150–200 m east of the mined-out orebodies, at a similar stratigraphic level within altered felsic breccia and tuff. The sulfides are mainly in the No. 8 lens, which contains 1.0 Mt at an average grade of 1.54% Cu, 4.12% Zn, 31.2 g/t Ag, and 0.48 g/t Au. Pyrite forms porphyroblastic megacrysts in a groundmass of pyrrhotite, sphalerite, magnetite, and chalcopyrite. A funnel-shaped, chloritized stockwork zone underlies the No. 8 lens and contains Cu-stringer mineralization. The No. 8 lens appears to be zoned, with overall decreasing Cu:Zn ratios from the core to the fringes of the lens. Massive sulfides in this lens have high Ag, Cd, and Hg contents relative to other massive sulfide deposits near Noranda.Ti versus Zr trends for least-altered Aldermac volcanic rocks indicate a more or less continuous magmatic fractionation trend ranging from high-Ti andesite to andesite, dacite, rhyodacite, and two distinct rhyolites (A and B). Most volcanic rocks were derived from a common parental magma that was transitional between tholeiitic and calc-alkaline compositions, as indicated by Ti–Y–Zr–Nb data and rare-earth-element distributions.Ti versus Zr trends in altered volcanic rocks indicate that silicification (mass gain) has affected some of the andesitic to rhyodacitic rocks, whereas chloritization (mass loss) has affected many of the rhyolitic rocks. Intermediate to mafic volcanic rocks above and lateral to the felsic dome are commonly silicified, possibly the result of hydrothermally remobilized silica derived from underlying felsic volcanic rocks.The orebodies appear to have formed at an eruptive hiatus between mafic → felsic and felsic → mafic cycles, during explosive activity and accumulation of felsic breccia and tuff. Ore was deposited mainly within a felsic fragmental sequence (rhyolite A), but before emplacement of the dome of rhyolite B. In compositionally diverse volcanic terrains, the contact between successive mafic–felsic and felsic–mafic cycles may be a good exploration target, in particular specific geochemical contacts within the felsic stratigraphy.

You do not currently have access to this article.