Abstract

ABSTRACT

The Zn–Pb–Ag metallogenic province of the western and central Brooks Range, Alaska, contains two distinct but mineralogically similar deposit types: shale-hosted massive sulphide (SHMS) and smaller vein-breccia occurrences. Recent investigations of the Red Dog and Anarraaq SHMS deposits demonstrated that these deposits are characterized by high trace-element concentrations of As, Ge, Sb and Tl. This paper examines geochemistry of additional SHMS deposits (Drenchwater and Su-Lik) to determine which trace elements are ubiquitously elevated in all SHMS deposits. Data from several vein-breccia occurrences are also presented to see if trace-element concentrations can distinguish SHMS deposits from vein-breccia occurrences. Whole-rock geochemical data indicate that Tl is the most consistently and highly concentrated characteristic trace element in SHMS deposits relative to regional unmineralized rock samples. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) analyses of pyrite and sphalerite indicate that Tl is concentrated in pyrite in SHMS. Stream sediment data from the Drenchwater and Su-Lik SHMS show that high Tl concentrations are more broadly distributed proximal to known or suspected mineralization than As, Sb, Zn and Pb anomalies. This broader distribution of Tl in whole-rock and particularly stream sediment samples increases the footprint of exposed and shallowly buried SHMS mineralization. High Tl concentrations also distinguish SHMS mineralization from the vein-breccia deposits, as the latter lack high concentrations of Tl but can otherwise have similar trace-element signatures to SHMS deposits.

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