The Nautanen deformation zone in the Gällivare area of northern Sweden is a highly Cu-mineralized, magnetite-rich, large-scale shear zone with a long-lived (~100 m.y.) deformation, hydrothermal alteration, and mineralization history. This composite structure hosts the Aitik porphyry Cu-Au-Ag ± Mo deposit and several Cu-Au ± Fe ± Ag ± Mo occurrences assigned to the iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) deposit class. The Nautanen deformation zone was a locus for polyphase deformation and intermittent metasomatic-hydrothermal activity that overprinted middle Orosirian (ca. 1.90–1.88 Ga) continental arc-related volcanic-plutonic rocks. The deformation zone is characterized by intense shearing fabrics that form a series of subvertical to moderately W-dipping, NNW-SSE–trending, first-order shear zones with oblique reverse kinematics and related NNE-SSW–oriented second-order shear zones that control hydrothermal alteration patterns and Cu-Au mineralization.
Hydrothermal alteration in the study area formed during several phases. Volcanic-volcaniclastic rocks to the east and west of the Nautanen deformation zone display low to moderately intense, pervasive to selectively pervasive (i.e., patchy zones or bands, disseminations) sericite ± feldspar, amphibole + biotite + magnetite ± tourmaline, and K-feldspar + hematite alteration. Both the amphibole + biotite and K-feldspar + hematite associations occur adjacent to NNW- and NE-oriented deformation zones and are locally associated with minor sulfide. Within the deformation zone, a moderate to intense biotite + amphibole + garnet + magnetite + tourmaline + sericite alteration assemblage is typically associated with chalcopyrite + pyrrhotite + pyrite and forms linear and subparallel, mainly NNW-oriented seams, bands, and zones that locally appear to overprint possibly earlier scapolite + sericite ± feldspar alteration. Late-stage epidote ± quartz ± feldspar alteration (retrograde saussuritization) forms selectively pervasive zones and epidote veinlets across the area and is partly related to brittle faulting.
A magnetite-amphibole-biotite–rich, penetrative S1 foliation records shortening during early Svecokarelian-related deformation (D1) and can be related to ca. 1.88 to 1.87 Ga arc accretion processes and basin inversion that overlaps with regional peak metamorphism to near mid-amphibolite facies conditions and a potential initial Cu mineralization event. Folding and repeated shearing along the Nautanen deformation zone can be assigned to a second, late-Svecokarelian deformation event (D2 stage, ca. 1.82–1.79 Ga) taking place at a higher crustal level. This D2 deformation phase is related to late-stage accretionary processes active during a transition to a stage of postorogenic collapse, and it was accompanied by abundant, syntectonic intrusions. D2-related magmatism produced high-temperature and low-pressure conditions and represents a regional magmatic-hydrothermal event that controlled the recrystallization/remobilization of magnetite, biotite, and amphibole. Associated shear zone reactivation during D2 favors the utilization of the Nautanen deformation zone as a fluid conduit, which preferentially controlled the siting and formation of epigenetic Cu-Au mineralization with distinctive IOCG characteristics within second-order shear zones.