The area around New Consort Gold Mine (NCGM) was complexly deformed during at least five distinct events named D1NC to D5NC. The D1NC to D3NC events involve progressive shearing and folding linked to the 3.25 to 3.23 Ga accretionary history of the Barberton greenstone belt (D1NC and D2NC ), and to the subsequent ~3.1 Ga emplacement and doming of surrounding batholiths (D3NC). During D3NC the area experienced intense strain partitioning with the development of a network of shear zones that envelop structural domains characterised by locally unique deformation histories. Around NCGM, D3NC events involved early shearing (D3aNC ) along the Consort Bar followed by two episodes of 600 m scale folding (D3bNC and D3cNC), resulting in a complex fold interference pattern. Pegmatites intruded during D3NC.
The critical structures controlling gold mineralisation are D4NC extensional, 10 to 100 m scale, brittle-ductile shear fractures associated with kink bands and crenulation folds that formed concomitantly with gold mineralisation after all the D3NC structures had fully developed, marking a clearly separate event. This network of fractures is distributed along 100 to 200 m wide west-northwesterly, north-northwesterly and east-northeasterly trending corridors. The distribution of high-grade ore zones was controlled by the intersection orientation of D4NC fractures and suitable host lithologies, mainly the silicified hinge zones of D1NC folds and the siliceous Consort Bar. Because these host lithologies were complexly folded in D1NC-D3bNC-D3cNC fold interference patterns, the 3-D distribution of ore zones is highly discontinuous and complex. D5NC structures represent late reverse faults of unknown age, well developed in the nearby Albion Mine.
Kinematic analyses and stress inversion using Bingham tensor solutions and a reduced moment tensorn method, of mineralised D4NC fractures along old gold workings at NCGM; consistently indicate a vertical σ1, and a horizontal northwesterly to southeasterly directed σ3, within an extensional stress regime. Results for the nearby Clutha, Albion and Woodstock mines are similar. This study suggests that gold mineralisation in the NCGM area can be linked to an extensional event that may have developed separately from the accretionary events shaping the craton, and may have coincided with deposition of the Dominion Group.