Abstract

The ~15-Moz Ahafo South gold camp is located in southwest Ghana, the world’s premier Paleoproterozoic gold subprovince. Major orogenic gold deposits in the camp include Subika, Apensu, Awonsu, and Amoma. These deposits occur along an ~15-km strike length of the Kenyase-Yamfo shear zone, a major tectonostratigraphic boundary juxtaposing metamorphosed volcano-plutonic rocks of the Sefwi belt against metamorphosed volcano-sedimentary rocks of the Sunyani-Comoé basin. In this study, we document the geologic setting, structural geometry, and rheological architecture of the Ahafo South gold deposits based on the integration of field mapping, diamond drill core logging, 3-D geologic modeling, and the geologic interpretation of aeromagnetic data. At the camp scale, the Awonsu, Apensu, and Amoma deposits lie along strike from one another and share similar hanging-wall plutonic rocks and footwall volcano-sedimentary rocks. In contrast, the Subika gold deposit is hosted entirely in hanging-wall plutonic rocks. Steeper-dipping segments (e.g., Apensu, Awonsu, Subika) and right-hand flexures (e.g., Amoma, Apensu) in the Kenyase-Yamfo shear zone and subsidiary structures appear to have represented sites of enhanced damage and fluid flux (i.e., restraining bends). All gold deposits occur within structural domains bounded by discontinuous, low-displacement, sinistral N-striking tear faults oblique to the orogen-parallel Kenyase-Yamfo shear zone. At the deposit scale, ore-related hydrothermal alteration is zoned, with distal chlorite-sericite grading into proximal silica-albite-Fe-carbonate mineral assemblages. Alteration halos are restricted to narrow selvages around quartz-carbonate vein arrays in multiple stacked ore shoots at Subika, whereas these halos extend 30 to 100 m away from the ore zones at Apensu and Awonsu. There is a clear spatial association between shallow-dipping mafic dikes, mafic chonoliths, shear zones, and economic gold mineralization. The abundance of mafic dikes and chonoliths within intermediate to felsic hanging-wall plutonic host rocks provided rheological heterogeneity that favored the formation of enhanced fracture permeability, promoting the tapping of ore fluid(s). Our interpretation is that these stacked shallow-dipping mafic dike arrays also acted as aquitards, impeding upward fluid flow within the wider intrusive rock mass until a failure threshold was episodically reached due to fluid overpressure, resulting in transient fracture-controlled upward propagation of the ore-fluid(s). Our results indicate that high-grade ore shoots at Ahafo South form part of vertically extensive fluid conduit systems that are primarily controlled by the rheological architecture of the rock mass.

You do not currently have access to this article.