Abstract

Silica sinter masses in the southern portion of the Pliocene Puhipuhi geothermal field of Northland, New Zealand, have recrystallized to microcrystalline quartz and moganite but many primary depositional fabrics of the sinters can still be recognized. Finely disseminated cinnabar, acicular stibnite, pyrite framboids and minor livingstonite are distributed through both massive sinter and stromatolitic fabrics with sulphide mineralization extending from fractured rocks about former spring vents into less disturbed sinter layers. The deposition of sulphides in the sinters is part of a continuum of mineralization resulting from the former hydrothermal regime and which extends to depth in the extinct geothermal system. Periodic changes in the hydrology, such as repeated fracturing following fracture sealing facilitated episodic sulphide deposition. Mercury is considered to have travelled in the liquid phase with antimony and precipitated directly as cinnabar. Remobilization of the sulphides, along with the recrystallization of the sinter masses, have produced complex textural relations. The multifaceted paragenesis of the sulphides is reflected in the range of their minor and trace element compositions revealed by electron microprobe analyses.

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