Abstract

The mafic-dominated volcanic and related volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks, which host the Archean Coniagas Zn–Pb–Ag massive sulfide deposit, are inferred to be the result of submarine explosive and effusive eruptions at depths of approximately 1000 m, as suggested by the presence of volcaniclastic turbidites, the absence of wave-induced sedimentary structures, pillowed lava flows, the sulfide deposit itself, and the incipient arc setting. The rock assemblage includes massive, pillowed and brecciated, basaltic to andesitic flows, massive, andesitic to rhyodacitic lapilli tuffs, andesitic stratified lapilli tuffs, and bedded tuffs. Preserved fragments and delicate volcanic textures, such as angularity of clasts, chilled clast margins, and clast vesicularity, and sedimentary structures are consistent with a subaqueous hydroclastic origin for the volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks. Explosive degasification of magma and (or) lava, in conjunction with fragmentation due to the interaction of magma–water, or nonexplosive hydroclastic fragmentation can account for the observed characteristics in the volcaniclastic deposits.The 280 m thick Coniagas volcano-sedimentary succession, used to reconstruct the volcanic history of the deposit, records two explosive–effusive volcanic cycles. The initial stage of each cycle is envisaged to have commenced with a small fire fountain or boiling-over eruption. Transport and deposition of the fragmented debris along the flanks of the volcanic edifice is attributed to high-concentration particulate gravity flows. The massive lapilli tuffs are interpreted as laminar debris flows, whereas the stratified lapilli tuffs may reflect turbulent flow deposits. The bedded tuffs were produced during the waning eruptive stages or elutriated from high-concentration syneruption flows. Ingestion of water, causing hydroclastic fragmentation, occurred during the eruptive and (or) the transport process. Calm, effusive mafic volcanism, characterized by massive, pillowed and brecciated flows and reworked counterparts, terminates each volcanic cycle. The massive, felsic lapilli tuffs, which host the mineralization, are inferred to represent locally reworked hydroclastic products of explosive or nonexplosive origin. The Coniagas mine deposit may serve as a guide for future exploration of small Archean volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposits with a restricted alteration halo.

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