Trace elements in native gold provide a “fingerprint” that tends to be unique to individual gold deposits. Fingerprinting can distinguish gold sources and potentially yield insights into geochemical processes operating during gold deposit formation. Native gold grains come from three historical gold ore deposits: Hollinger, McIntyre (quartz-veined ore), and Aunor near Timmins, Ontario, at the western end of the Porcupine gold camp and the southwestern part of the Abitibi greenstone belt. Laser ablation – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (LA–ICP–MS) trace element concentrations were determined on 20–25 µm wide, 300 µm long rastor trails in ∼60 native gold grains. Analyses used Ag as an internal standard with Ag and Au determined by a scanning electron microscope with an energy dispersive spectrometer. The London Bullion Market AuRM2 reference material served as the external standard for 21 trace element analytes (Al, As, Bi, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Pd, Pt, Rh, Sb, Se, Si, Sn, Te, Ti, Zn; Se generally below detection in samples). Trace elements in native gold associate according to Goldschmidt’s classification of elements strongly suggesting that element behaviour in native Au is not random. Such element behaviour suggests that samples from each Timmins deposit formed under similar but slightly variable geochemical conditions. Chalcophile and siderophile elements provide the most compelling fingerprints of the three ore deposits and appear to be mostly in solid solution in Au. Lithophile elements are not very useful for distinguishing these deposits and element concentrations may be controlled by microinclusions such as tourmaline. The deposits show low Ag contents, which is consistent with mesothermal Au. Hollinger and McIntyre deposits have similar trace element abundances with higher Ag, Pb, Bi, Sb, and Pd and generally low Cu; however, Cu concentrations in McIntyre are higher than in Hollinger. In contrast, Aunor shows comparatively low Ag, Bi, Sb, Pb, and Pd and higher Au/Ag consistent with higher hydrothermal fluid temperatures. Gold grain signatures reflect the chemical characteristics of the host rock superimposed on a chemical signature inherited from the mineralizing fluid. The association of Pb–Bi–Cu bearing phases such as galena and chalcopyrite with gold apparently enriched in these elements supports precipitation from hydrothermal fluids carrying the elements.

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