Abstract

Gold production from the northern Pataz district in the eastern Andean Cordillera of Peru has been sourced mainly from mesothermal quartz-carbonate-sulfide veins hosted by the Mississippian Pataz batholith. Gold is also found in basement-hosted veins underlying the batholith, in the Vijus-Santa Filomena area of the district. Both are located within a central horst; similar vein mineralogy and proximal phengitic white mica alteration are common to both. However, comb-textured quartz, the chemical compositions of bulk ore and sulfide minerals, and the presence of barite and siderite veins suggest that the basement-hosted veins formed at a shallower crustal level. Similar expressions of hydrothermal alteration associated with anomalous gold, As, Sb, and Tl are also present in the adjacent Lavasen graben, where alteration is intimately associated with volcanic processes that deposited the Mississippian Lavasen Volcanics. K-Ar and 40Ar-39Ar ages for hydrothermal illite from all three locations range between Mississippian and Late Triassic but are consistent with a single Mississippian hydrothermal event, if the data record a minimum age for original illite formation. The geologic setting, mineralization styles, and chemical data suggest a range of crustal depths, ranging from mesothermal batholith-hosted veins through shallow to intermediate depths for the Vijus-Santa Filomena area to a near-surface epithermal setting for the Misquichilca area. Telescoping of this 10- to 13-km crustal range into a 3-km topographic section of the Andes is attributed to syn- and postmineralization uplift and erosion.

Sulfide-rich high-grade ore shoots and moderately saline fluid inclusions in the batholith-hosted veins are inconsistent with the original orogenic gold model and suggest a magmatic source component for the ore fluid, consistent with stable isotope (O, H, C, and S) compositions of quartz, illite, carbonates, and sulfides. The isotopic data suggest a mixed magmatic-meteoric ore fluid in the basement-hosted deposits of the Vijus-Santa Filomena area and the volcanic-hosted Misquichilca area. Both the Pataz batholith and the Esperanza Subvolcanic Complex are of the same Mississippian age as the hydrothermal alteration and mineralization. The Esperanza Subvolcanic Complex, comagmatic with the Lavasen Volcanics, contains cognate mineral clots from which a subjacent magma chamber can be inferred. It exhibits potassic, calc-silicate, and argillic alteration, and evidence for the evolution of an Fe-rich volatile phase. The Lavasen-Esperanza magma suite is ferroan and weakly alkaline, with A-type affinities. These features provide a conceptual genetic link with hydrothermal alteration associated with gold mineralization, including Fe (±As) sulfides, phengitic white mica, celadonite, Fe-rich carbonates, and less common Fe oxides. An oxidized intrusion-related model is proposed for gold and hydrothermal alteration in the northern Pataz district.

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