Abstract

A reconnaissance study of 19 volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits in the Notre Dame Bay area indicates Au concentrations of up to 30 ppm (Betts Cove), and elevated gold contents (>1 ppm Au) have been found in samples from 10 additional past producers and developed prospects. Systematic trends in the occurrence of gold are observed in two principal sulphide assemblages: polymetallic, pyrite–sphalerite–chalcopyrite–galena ± arsenopyrite assemblages (type I) and pyrite–chalcopyrite ± sphalerite ± pyrrhotite assemblages (type II). Type I assemblages occur in deposits with dominantly felsic host rocks, whereas type II assemblages are restricted to deposits in mafic-dominated ophiolite sequences. Free gold grains were observed in samples from eight different deposits in both type I and type II assemblages. X-ray emission spectra and electron microprobe analyses of the gold indicate that most grains are electrum, although a Au-bearing telluride occurs at Point Leamington. Ion microprobe analyses indicate that as much as 50% of bulk gold may be present as "invisible gold" locked in pyrite or arsenopyrite (up to 140 ppm Au at Point Leamington). Well-preserved primary depositional features in gold-bearing sulphides from several deposits suggest that the gold in type I assemblages is syngenetic. A strong correlation between gold and a polymetallic suite of Zn, Ag, Pb, As, and Sb, similar to that observed in Kuroko-type massive sulphides and in modern seafloor sulphides, supports a primary origin for gold in type I assemblages. In type II assemblages primary depositional features have been largely destroyed by deformation and annealing of sulphide grains. Gold is locally enriched in Zn-rich sulphides, and sulphides containing abundant pyrrhotite have the lowest gold contents. However, consistent geochemical associations with other elements are not observed, and this may reflect the strong remobilization of gold during structural deformation. The abundant free gold in some type II assemblages is a product of recrystallization during deformation and was derived locally from primary gold originally present in the host sulphides.

You do not currently have access to this article.