The Tarcoola goldfield in central South Australia is hosted by the Paleoproterozoic Paxton Granite and Tarcoola Formation metasedimentary rocks. Both of these units are intruded by narrow dikes of the Lady Jane Diorite, which is considered to be part of the Gawler Range-Hiltaba volcano-plutonic event. Crosscutting relationships and 40Ar/39Ar dating of alteration sericite and primary hornblende have demonstrated that veining, alteration, and mineralization occurred synchronously with intrusion of the diorite dikes at ~1580 Ma. Mineralization at the Perseverance deposit in the Tarcoola goldfield is hosted by quartz veins in both granite and the lower parts of the Tarcoola Formation. Alteration intensity and mineralization are related to fracture density. Very high gold grades (up to 270 ppm) are recorded in carbonaceous siltstones of the Tarcoola Formation.
Primary fluid inclusions from mineralized quartz veins at Perseverance are dominated by two-phase aqueous inclusions and three-phase H2O-CO2(l)-CO2(v) ± CH4 inclusions. Both inclusion types have salinities of <10 wt percent NaCl equiv, with evidence of other salts being present. Both types homogenize between 150° and ~340°C. They occur together in single quartz grains, which suggests the coexistence of aqueous and carbonic fluids. At the Perseverance deposit the maximum depth of fluid inclusion formation is estimated as 10 km. Processes resulting from pressure fluctuations during brittle fracturing causing phase separation are suggested to be the dominant gold precipitation mechanism, although definitive fluid inclusion evidence for either phase separation or fluid mixing is lacking. Wall-rock sulfidation may have also contributed to gold deposition.
Pb isotope compositions of galena from gold-bearing mineralized veins at Perseverance are similar to K-feldspar and whole-rock samples of the Paxton Granite. This is consistent with a common source of Pb and possibly other ore components for both the granite and galena, but not all potential reservoirs were tested. Variably altered and gold mineralized samples that had Paxton Granite precursors show a loss of Nd and a trend from εNd(1580Ma) values of about −6.2 in slightly altered samples toward more positive εNd values of about −3.3 in high-grade gold samples. Of the local lithologic units, the Lady Jane Diorite has εNd(1580Ma) values of about +0.1 and is the most probable source of the more primitive Nd isotope components in mineralized samples.
Mineralization in the Tarcoola goldfield has similarities to both orogenic and intrusion-related gold styles. The demonstrated coeval timing of diorite dikes and mineralization at Tarcoola, together with the Nd isotope constraints on metal sources, and the presence of similar mafic dikes in several other known gold prospects in the central Gawler gold province, suggests that the diorite was an essential part of the gold mineralization event throughout this province.