Abstract

Aeromagnetic, airborne radiometric, and surface gravity data from the adularia-sericite epithermal province of the Hauraki goldfield have delineated distinct anomalies associated with pervasive hydrothermal alteration and gold-silver mineralization. Aeromagnetic derivative images, particularly the analytic signal, define the boundaries of several magnetic quiet zones that result from magnetite destruction in the volcanic host rocks. Six discrete zones, each of ≤10-km2 areal extent are evident and are comparable in size to modern-day geothermal systems in the Taupo volcanic zone. An extensive (>20-km2) zone in the Waitekauri Valley is likely to be the result of multiple overlapping systems, for which there are also analogues in the Taupo volcanic zone that form single large-scale alteration zones up to 100 km2. Low-pass filtering of the analytic signal data reveals still wider zones of relatively low magnetic intensity interpreted as areas of hydrothermally altered rock extending below younger, unaltered cover. Many of these magnetic quiet zones are aligned along a north-northeast–south-southwest structural corridor, indicating that regional-scale structures may have controlled the location of these geophysical features. Radiometric data delineate local high potassium anomalies that reflect up to 12/100 g potassium enrichment in the core of alteration zones in the form of adularia and illite. A broad K/Th anomaly correlates with the extent of the magnetic quiet zones and indicates widespread potassium enrichment in the Waitekauri-Maratoto area. Gravity data in the Waihi district define a unique, double-peaked, 50-gravity unit positive residual anomaly that correlates closely with the extent of the magnetic quiet zone and the locations of the Waihi and Favona deposits. Preliminary modeling indicates that the anomaly source body, beneath the near-surface, low-density altered andesite, has a volume of up to ~11 km3 and a minimum density of 2,900 kg m−3. The nature of this source body is enigmatic; possible causes include a dense intrusion, uplifted anomalously dense basement, dense sulfide mineralization, or some combination of these. In addition, the correlation of each of the two gravity peaks with a north-northeast–trending fault may indicate some structural focusing process active at the deposit scale. This integration of geophysical data provides an outstanding case study of the district- to regional-scale geophysical characteristics of a classic epithermal province and demonstrates the strengths of geophysical surveys in the exploration for epithermal mineral deposits.

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