Abstract

We report here an investigation of the distribution of Au, As, Sb, Hg, carbonates, K-Al silicates, and pyrite in the Twin Creeks Carlin-type gold deposit. The main objective of the study was to determine the nature and degree of correlation among these variables and use them to identify the process(es) that deposited gold. The study focused on deposit-scale variations in these parameters and was based, in part, on data from two large geochemical databases that were prepared by mine staff. Country rocks at Twin Creeks include Ordovician-age interlayered calcareous shales and mafic igneous rocks, the overlying Leviathan allochthon, and the Pennsylvanian-Permian Etchart Formation that was deposited unconformably over these rocks. Most gold values are found in calcareous shales in the Ordovician sequence and in limestones in the Etchart Formation, although not all layers contain the same amount of gold. Strongest gold mineralization is not adjacent to faults but its general form and distribution suggest that gold-bearing solutions gained access to favorable layers along the faults. In the Ordovician sequence, gold values are highest in shales that have undergone maximum dissolution of carbonate minerals. Petrographic study shows that some gold is associated with adularia, but deposit-scale comparisons do not show a consistent relation between K/Al ratios and gold values. The distribution of antimony is similar to that of gold, whereas mercury is more concentrated than gold, and arsenic is more widely dispersed than gold. The relation between gold, iron, and sulfide sulfur values shows that mineralization is concentrated in rocks that have gained sulfur, but not iron, to form gold-bearing arsenian pyrite. Thus, these rocks have undergone sulfidation rather than pyritization. The iron that underwent sulfidation came largely from preore, diagenetic(?) ferroan dolomite and was released into solution by decarbonation, a common form of alteration associated with Carlin-type deposits. The results of this study suggest that wall-rock iron content and decarbonation processes which liberate this iron are the most important factors controlling formation of Carlin-type gold deposits. New deposits should be sought where stratigraphic units containing abundant ferroan dolomite are cut by favorable structures.

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