Abstract

We delineate an approximately 240-km-long, north-trending Au-Pd-Pt belt in Minas Gerais, Brazil, which hosts hydrothermal Pd-Pt-bearing gold mineralization in its southern part (Quadrilátero Ferrífero and Itabira district) and alluvial Pd-Pt-Au mineralization in its northern part (southern Serra do Espinhaço). The hydrothermal Pd-Pt-bearing gold mineralization, locally known as jacutinga, occurs as late-orogenic quartz-hematite-(talc-kaolinite) veins, which truncate the Brasiliano regional tectonic foliation of the itabiritic host rocks of the Paleoproterozoic Itabira Iron Formation. The alluvial Pd-Pt-Au mineralization occurs as botryoidal Pd-Pt nuggets and delicate palladiferous gold aggregates in clastic and organic-rich valley infill on quartzite and hematitic rocks of the Paleo- to Mesoproterozoic Espinhaço Supergroup. The Au-Pd-Pt belt follows the regional trend of major thrust faults related to the ~0.6 Ga Brasiliano orogeny, and the hydrothermal jacutinga mineralization could be regarded as an oxidized variant of the orogenic gold deposit spectrum. Secondary botryoidal and arborescent Pt-Pd aggegates and primary (detrital) Au-Pd grains are peculiar to the alluvial platiniferous deposits of the northern part of the belt in the Serra do Espinhaço. We suggest that their source was jacutinga-style vein mineralization, as deduced from abundant detrital hematite and rutile, and the discovery of detrital hongshiite, a Pt-Cu alloy that forms bonanza pockets within jacutinga at Itabira. Reconnaissance laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry analyses for trace metals in the botryoidal Pt-Pd grains show that they have elevated Tl and Se contents of 0.9 to 354 and 54 to 2,700 ppm, respectively. These elements correlate positively, with a Tl/Se ratio of about 0.08, a value that contrasts with Tl/Se >1 for hongshiite from the hydrothermal jacutinga system at Itabira. The low and roughly constant Tl/Se ratios of the alluvial samples are close to the average value of 0.12 for fluvial waters. We suggest that the botryoidal Pt-Pd aggregates grew in situ by electrochemical metal accretion from dilute solutions carrying Pt and Pd from the dissolution of detrital Pt-Pd minerals from jacutinga.

The connection between jacutinga and platiniferous alluvia indicates that there is a prospective trend of about 240 km for Pd-Pt-bearing gold mineralization reaching from Ouro Preto to Diamantina. The very high oxidation state required for efficient low-temperature aqueous mobilization of Pt, Pd, and Au was apparently controlled by the quartzitic and hematitic rocks in the Serra do Espinhaço, but not in the southern belt where greenstone rocks buffered fluids to moderate pH and lower oxidation states.

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