Abstract

The Voisey’s Bay intrusion of the Mesoproterozoic Nain Plutonic Suite hosts a world-class magmatic Ni-Cu-Co sulfide deposit. Here we document the brittle and ductile structure of gneisses surrounding the intrusion using field data, borehole intersections, and subsurface structural data obtained from acoustic and optical televiewer surveys. We elucidate the role that wall-rock structure played on controlling the geometry of the intrusion and the formation of structural traps that host mineralization. The Voisey’s Bay intrusion consists at first order of two km-scale magma chambers, interpreted to represent an upper and lower chamber of the intrusion, that are connected by a system of dikes. Three types of gneiss, associated with the Paleoproterozoic Torngat orogen, form the wall rocks of the intrusion: Archean orthogneiss, Paleoproterozoic Tasiuyak paragneiss, and Paleoproterozoic enderbitic orthogneiss. Three phases of ductile deformation (D1–D3), predating intrusion emplacement, are recorded in the wall-rock gneisses. D1 produced the dominant S1 fabric, subparallel to original bedding (S0) in the Tasiuyak gneiss. D2 shortening caused shallowly plunging, upright to moderately inclined, F2 folds in the enderbitic gneiss, the prototype of which was likely emplaced toward the end of D1. D3 ductile deformation resulted in steeply dipping shear zones, and flat lying to shallowly dipping C3 shear planes. At least two later phases of brittle deformation (D4 and D5) are present. D4 is a preemplacement event characterized by fractures with orientations similar to D3 shear zones and shear planes. D5 faults and joints formed during syn- to postemplacement brittle deformation likely associated with E-W brittle sinistral transtension associated with the Mesoproterozoic Gardar-Voisey’s Bay fault zone. The geometry of the Voisey’s Bay intrusion and its mineralization was controlled by pre- to synemplacement brittle structures and preemplacement ductile structures, which acted as passive wall-rock anisotropies. Mineralization hosted within Tasiuyak gneiss is controlled by the intersection of a dike with S1/S0, D3 shear zones and D4 fractures. Where the intrusion occurs within enderbitic gneiss, mineralization locally coincides with shallow fabrics associated with F2 fold closures. The margins of the Voisey’s Bay dikes are controlled by steeply and shallowly dipping D4 fractures. Changes in dike thickness, which control the locations of mineralization, can be explained by thermomechanical erosion of the walls of the dike, which occurs by thermal expansion and contraction of wall rock due to repeated magma pulses, and the mechanical spalling of this wall rock along anisotropies. The strong brittle structural control on emplacement, along with previous geothermobarometry, is consistent with a mid-crustal (9–11 km) depth of emplacement. Lithosphere-scale E-W–trending D5 faults may have acted as conduits for the crustal-scale transport of primitive Voisey’s Bay magmas from their source, rather than an older orogenic suture zone.

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