Abstract

The majority of volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits at the east end of the Paleoproterozoic Flin Flon “greenstone” belt occur in the 1.89 Ga Snow Lake arc assemblage. VMS deposits in this isotopically juvenile oceanic arc sequence are hosted within a 6 km thick monoclinal section that records in its stratigraphy and geochemistry a temporal evolution in arc development from primitive, through mature, to arc rift. VMS deposits occur in both the primitive and mature arc sequences and are interpreted to be products of arc extension and accompanying anomolously high heat flow, fracturing, and fluid circulation. Boninites, low-Ti tholeiites, and isotopically juvenile rhyolite flows, a rock association that has been attributed in both modern and Phanerozoic arcs to high-temperature hydrous melting of refractory mantle sources in an extensional and (or) pro to-arc environment, forms the primitive arc. Indication that the mature arc also underwent extension includes voluminous volcaniclastic detritus (from fault scarps?), prominent synvolcanic dykes, isotopically juvenile rhyolite flows, and the fact that the mature arc is stratigraphically overlain by arc-rift basalts with MORB-like geochemistry. Interpretation of VMS deposits at Snow Lake as products of an extensional geodynamic setting suggests that the traditional Flin Flon Belt exploration model, invoking “pluton-generated” convective seawater, be augmented by the search for evidence of rifting. Economically significant rock associations at Snow Lake include geochemically primitive refractory mafic magmas (e.g., boninites), isotopically juvenile felsic magmas, bimodal basalt–rhyolite sequences, and arc-rift basalts.

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