Abstract

The Miocene low-sulfidation epithermal deposits of the Omu camp in northeastern Hokkaido, Japan, are small past-producers of precious metals and represent significant exploration targets for high-grade Au and Ag ores. The quartz textures of ore samples and the distribution of ore minerals within quartz veins were studied to identify the processes that resulted in the bonanza-grade precious metal enrichment in these deposits. In the high-grade vein samples, which are crustiform or brecciated in hand specimen, ore minerals exclusively occur within colloform quartz bands. High-magnification microscopy reveals that ore-bearing colloform bands consist of fine-grained quartz exhibiting relic microsphere textures and quartz having a mosaic texture that formed through recrystallization of the microspheres. The presence of relic microspheres is evidence that the microcrystalline quartz hosting the ore minerals formed through recrystallization of a noncrystalline silica precursor phase. The ore-hosting colloform bands composed of agglomerated microspheres alternate with barren colloform quartz bands that are composed of fibrous chalcedonic quartz and mosaic quartz formed through recrystallization of the chalcedony. The findings of this study are consistent with previous models linking bonanza-grade precious metal enrichment and the formation of bands of noncrystalline silica in low-sulfidation epithermal veins to episodic vigorous boiling or flashing of the hydrothermal system in the near-surface environment.

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