The world’s largest Ni–Cu–Platinum group element (PGE) deposits are dominantly hosted by ultramafic rocks within continental extensional settings (e.g., Raglan, Voisey’s Bay), resulting in a focus on exploration in similar geodynamic settings. Consequently, the economic potential of other extensional tectonic environments, such as ocean ridges and back-arc basins, may be underestimated. In the northeastern portion of the ca. 2.7 Ga Yathkyed greenstone belt of the Chesterfield block (western Churchill Province, Canada), the Ni–Cu–Co–PGE Ferguson Lake deposit is hosted by >2.6 Ga hornblenditic to gabbroic rocks of the Ferguson Lake Igneous Complex (FLIC), which is metamorphosed up to amphibolitic facies. The FLIC has a basaltic composition (Mg# = 31–72), flat to slightly negatively sloped normalized trace element patterns (La/YbPM = 0.7–3.5), and negative Zr, Ti, and Nb anomalies. The FLIC rocks are geochemically similar to the 2.7 Ga back-arc basin tholeiitic basalts from the adjacent Yathkyed and MacQuoid greenstone belts (Mg# = 30–67; La/YbPM = 0.3–3.0), but the Ferguson Lake intrusions appear to be more crustally contaminated. We interpret the FLIC to have formed in an equivalent back-arc basin setting. This geodynamic setting is rare for the formation of Ni–Cu–PGE occurrences, and only few examples of this tectonic environment (or variations of it, e.g., rifted back-arc) are found in other Proterozoic and Archean sequences (e.g., Lorraine deposit, Quebec). We suggest that back-arc basin-derived mafic rocks within the Yathkyed and other Neoarchean greenstone belts of the Chesterfield block (MacQuoid and Angikuni) could represent important targets for future mineral exploration.
The Ferguson Lake deposit: an example of Ni–Cu–Co–PGE mineralization emplaced in a back-arc basin setting?
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P. Acosta-Góngora, S.J. Pehrsson, H. Sandeman, E. Martel, T. Peterson; The Ferguson Lake deposit: an example of Ni–Cu–Co–PGE mineralization emplaced in a back-arc basin setting?. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences ; 55 (8): 958–979. doi: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2017-0185
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