Abstract

The Harmony nickel sulfide deposit (3.2 Mt of ore) is situated along the eastern margin of the Agnew-Wiluna greenstone belt, Eastern Goldfields, Western Australia. The deposit occurs 2 km north of the larger Rocky’s Reward (15.9 Mt) and Perseverance (50.7 Mt) deposits. The mine stratigraphy trends north-northwest–south-southeast, dips moderately (30°–80°) to the west, is overturned, and metamorphosed to middle-amphibolite facies grades (about 550°C, 3 kbars). Stratigraphic footwall units to the west of the nickel-bearing komatiite include ca. 2720 to 2725 Ma (volcano-) sedimentary rocks and rhyodacite volcanic and volcaniclastic units. Hanging-wall units comprise mainly reworked sedimentary or volcaniclastic rocks interlayered with at least two barren spinifex-textured komatiite units exposed in the mine area. Exhalative pyrite-rich pelitic units and thin amphibolite units are locally present in the footwall and hanging wall. The nickeliferous komatiite is thickest in the center of the deposit and thins to the north, south, and at depth. Although massive sulfides and minor disseminated sulfides are mainly located along the sheared western footwall contact, minor massive sulfides occur throughout the komatiite and country rock in fold hinges, boudin neck areas, brittle-ductile shear zones, piercement cusps, piercement veins, and brittle faults. Footwall and hanging-wall units have a strong composite fabric defined by compositional layering and several subparallel axial planar foliations. East-west shortening resulted in the folding of the composite fabric to form abundant north-northwest–trending, tight, asymmetric, moderately (20°–40°) N- and S-plunging folds. The asymmetric folds thicken the komatiite and orebodies in the center of the pit and control deposit-scale orebody plunge directions. The attenuated north-northwest–trending komatiite fold limbs are boudinaged and concentrate pods of massive sulfides in boudin neck positions. Relaxation in horizontal shortening coincided with open recumbent folding of the steeply dipping limbs of earlier upright asymmetric folds. A resumption of east-west shortening in a brittle stress regime resulted in the remobilization of massive sulfides into east-west–trending brittle faults. The concentration of massive sulfides in brittle-ductile to brittle structures indicates that massive sulfide remobilization spanned a diverse range of deformation and metamorphic conditions. The present geometry and distribution of stratigraphy and orebodies at Harmony reflect a complex interplay of primary magmatic and secondary overprinting processes. Remobilized massive sulfide orebodies are an important exploration target in other deformed and metamorphosed terranes that host primary Ni-Cu-(PGE) deposits. Although footwall units are the preferential host to remobilized massive sulfide shoots, massive sulfides are commonly remobilized within shear zones and faults zones and hosted by hanging-wall units up to 50 m from their primary footwall position. In cases of folding, orebodies tend to be elongate parallel to the plunge direction of fold axes or mineral stretching lineation, and potential exploration targets occur along the trend of known folded ore shoots and more specifically along the plunge line of such shoots.

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