Abstract

The Nicola Group at Hedley, British Columbia, is a late Carnian to late Norian (Late Triassic) sequence of calcareous sedimentary and arc-related volcaniclastic rocks. It was deposited on a tectonically active paleoslope that marked either the rifted eastern margin of the shallow-marine Nicola basin or the faulted edge of an intrabasinal platform. The lower part of the Nicola Group comprises a succession of four essentially coeval sedimentary facies. From east to west across the district, these are informally named the thin (approx. 200 m), shallow-marine, limestone-dominant French Mine formation; the thicker, calcareous siltstone-dominant Hedley and Chuchuwayha formations in the central part of the district; and the thick (up to 2200 m), deeper water and argillite-dominant Stemwinder formation. These facies are all blanketed by the Whistle formation, a 1200 m thick unit of basaltic tuff and tuffaceous sediment whose base is marked by a gravity-slide megabreccia, the Copperfield breccia. The Nicola arc at Hedley was associated with two plutonic episodes. Oldest are the Hedley intrusions, which are related to economic Au skarns, including the Nickel Plate deposit, which has produced over 71 t of gold from 13.4 Mt of ore. The Hedley intrusions are similar in composition (quartz gabbro to quartz diorite) and overall metaluminous chemistry to other island-arc-generated plutons related to many Cu and Fe skarns in British Columbia, although they are less evolved. They also differ in having lower Fe2O3/FeO ratios (avg. 0.23), indicating a reduced oxidation state, and higher Ba/La and Sc/Nb ratios. A slightly younger plutonic episode produced the 193 Ma (Early Jurassic) Bromley batholith and the 194 Ma Mount Riordan stock; the latter is associated with the Mount Riordan (Crystal Peak) industrial garnet skarn. Gold skarns are preferentially developed in areas where the Hedley intrusions cut the Hedley and French Mine formations. The Au skarn ore is marked by anomalous As, Bi, Te, and Co values, and by high pyrrhotite/pyrite and pyroxene/garnet ratios. It is distinct from the ore of Fe, Cu, Mo, Pb–Zn, W, and Sn skarns by its very low Cu/Au, Zn/Au, and Ag/Au ratios (avg. 97, 18, and 12, respectively).

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