Abstract

The Limonite Creek property in north-central British Columbia contains several zones of silicic and acid-sulphate alteration. These zones grade through advanced argillic and aluminous mineral assemblages to sericitic and regional propylitic alteration. Alteration assemblages are characteristic of high-sulphidation systems, although the abundance of pyrophyllite and andalusite suggests formation at depths below typical epithermal environments. Alteration occurred between 212 and 52 Ma as determined from field relations and U–Pb dating of intrusions. The deformed nature of the alteration assemblages and a minimum age of alunite (144 ± 8 Ma) suggest formation in latest Triassic to Middle Jurassic time. Based on these age constraints, alteration zones at Limonite Creek are significantly older than the Eocene Equity Silver deposit (ca. 60 Ma), despite the latter’s proximity and similar styles of alteration. Based on the new dates, host rocks at Limonite Creek are Late Triassic or older, and hence regional stratigraphy needs reassessment. Extensive exotic limonite deposits occur around the alteration zones and at lower elevations to the south. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the deposits have been accumulating for at least 8000 years. Iron released during weathering was transported in low-pH waters and precipitated initially as ferrihydrite, with subsequent conversion to goethite. Water chemistry confirms that the process is still active. In addition to iron, the limonite contains minor copper and zinc. The formation of low-pH waters and the transport of iron resulted from weathering of pyrite-rich alteration assemblages with negligible buffering capacity.

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