Abstract

Polyphase veins at the low-grade, structurally controlled epithermal gold deposit Endeavour 42 in the Junee-Narromine volcanic belt of the Ordovician to Silurian Macquarie Arc, central New South Wales (Australia), record multiple tectonically driven fluid-flow events during the mid-Paleozoic. Ordovician host rocks consist of a volcano-sedimentary succession intruded by trachyandesite and andesitic lavas and intrusions, as well as a volumetrically significant Ordovician diorite sill. The entire succession was tilted and faulted prior to the emplacement of multiple mafic to intermediate dike phases, commonly localized along faults. Gold-bearing veins cut all lithologic units at the Endeavour 42 deposit, with the exception of rare late-stage intrusions. Economic gold is restricted to faults, fault-hosted breccias, and veins with two distinct populations: (1) an older, steeply dipping conjugate vein set, cut by (2) two younger, moderately dipping vein sets. Both steep and inclined, moderately dipping vein sets contain a similar mineral assemblage, implying formation during a single epithermal system. Veins are generally 1 to 10 mm thick, commonly straight walled, but locally form overlapping veins with hard linkages. The steep veins reactivated two sets of older faults, fault-parallel fractures, and dike contacts, and accommodated subhorizontal extension. High gold grade, hydrothermally cemented breccias are associated with early gold-bearing veins and localized along deposit-scale faults. Crosscutting the early steep gold-bearing vein sets are inclined gold-bearing veins with moderate dips to the southwest and west. These opened as a new vein set and as veins localized along and at a slight angle to westward-dipping bedding planes, respectively. The geometry of the inclined, moderately dipping veins either represents a sudden change in the far-field stress state to near-vertical minimum compressive stress, thereby suggesting a change from an extensional to a contractional environment, or it may reflect local changes in the differential stress state with subhorizontal northeast-southwest tension. Late veins and thrust faults in the deposit indicate a postmineral contractional environment. The Endeavour 42 deposit underwent tectonic burial until it was exhumed in the early Carboniferous, as indicated by 40Ar/39Ar plateau ages of 362.7 ± 2.1, 356.3 ± 1.8, and 344.5 ± 2.1 Ma, toward the end of the Kanimblan Cycle.

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