The Hattu schist belt is an emerging gold-producing ore district in the western part of the Archean Karelian Province of the Fennoscandian Shield. The belt consists of 2.76 to 2.70 Ga tonalite, granodiorite, and leucogranite intruded into a mafic-felsic epiclastic-volcanic sequence of an only slightly older age. Complex and successive folding, shearing, and hydrothermal processes affected these rocks prior to the lower amphibolites facies peak metamorphism (550° ± 50°C; 3–5 kbar) at ca. 2.70 Ga. Orogenic gold deposits are hosted by the highly strained zones that developed during the Archean deformation of the belt. However, previous K-Ar and Rb-Sr geochronological studies indicated that a second tectonothermal overprint affected the Hattu schist belt between 1.7 and 1.8 Ga during the Svecofennian orogeny.

Results of our field, mineralogical, textural, and Pb isotope studies suggest that ore deposition at Pampalo was initiated by hydrothermal processes at the time of the emplacement of feldspar porphyry and tonalite intrusions and dikes, at around 2.72 Ga. Albitization and quartz-tourmaline-biotite-muscovite veining characterize this hydrothermal activity. The major stage of gold ore deposition can be confined to the subsequent development of high-strain zones in an intermediate-felsic tuffaceous unit (mafic schist) characterized by biotite-carbonate-pyrite alteration. Ar-Ar studies revealed the complete resetting of the Ar-Ar system in muscovite and biotite due to the Svecofennian orogeny, with closure of the isotopic system at 1.81 Ga. Results of Pb isotope studies of hydrothermal K-feldspar, galena, and altaite by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry indicate that K-feldspar alteration and remobilization of metals also took place during the Svecofennian reactivation of high-strain zones. The petrographic manifestation of this process is the replacement of albite by hydrothermal K-feldspar. Fluid inclusion data from hydrothermal K-feldspar suggest that carbonic-aqueous, low-salinity fluids interacted with the Archean ore at 350° to 400°C and 1.8 to 2.4 kbar during the Svecofennian overprint. Results of mass transfer calculations indicate that potassium gain correlates with increase of gold concentrations in the mafic schist and feldspar-porphyry units. Therefore, the Svecofennian overprint locally also enhanced the grade of gold mineralization, mostly along competency differences of the mafic schist and feldspar porphyry blocks/dikes. Later percolation of relatively low temperature (<300°C) saline basin fluids in some fractures of the crystalline basement also left their Pb isotope and fluid inclusion signatures on the mineralization while further modifying the composition of the ore.

Occurrences of hydrothermal proto-ores, as well as fluid flow events along structures reactivated by overprinting orogenic processes, are not exceptional features in Archean orogenic gold provinces. This study shows that the combination of in situ Pb isotope studies of U-poor alteration minerals and Pb-rich ore minerals, together with evaluation of relationships between gold enrichment and hydrothermal alteration and fluid inclusion studies, can be very useful in determining the significance and conditions of overprinting processes, as well as their potential implications for genetic and exploration models.

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