Abstract

Halloysite, a phyllosilicate clay mineral chemically similar to but structurally different from kaolinite, occurs in a variety of mineral deposit types. It is, however, difficult to identify and dehydrates quite readily. When identified in a porphyry or epithermal environment, halloysite is often interpreted to be a low-temperature polymorph of kaolinite and an indication of supergene processes. The occurrence of halloysite in the Cerro la Mina Au (Cu-Mo) prospect, Chiapas, Mexico, was investigated to determine if halloysite in porphyry-epithermal deposits might also be the product of hypogene processes. The prospect consists of Quaternary volcaniclastic breccias intruded by monzodiorites and trachyandesites crosscut by a volcanic-hydrothermal breccia pipe. Gold-copper-molybdenum mineralization at Cerro la Mina is structurally and lithologically controlled by matrix-rich breccia pipes hosting all of the significant alteration and mineralization drilled to date. Average grades within the prospect are 0.4 ppm Au, 0.16% Cu, and 131 ppm Mo. A total of 100 samples were obtained from 22 diamond drill holes over a range of stratigraphic levels. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and SWIR techniques were employed to identify the different clay minerals found within these samples, including halloysite, kaolinite, dickite, and illite. Identification of halloysite and kaolinite were facilitated by the use of formamide intercalation to produce distinctive peaks for the two minerals in X-ray diffractograms. Halloysite and kaolinite were found to occur from the current erosional surface to depths of over 800 m. Halloysite occurs as both the hydrated 10Å and dehydrated 7Å forms within the deposit. The morphology of the halloysite present is that of well-developed tubes and spheroids. Results of the study show that halloysite associated with gypsum and jarosite is of supergene origin, whereas halloysite occurring with quartz, alunite, dickite, kaolinite, and pyrite is of hypogene origin.

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