Field identification of Cu-Au-Fe-oxides bearing hydrothermal systems in undifferentiated gneiss complexes of the Grenville Province

CIM Montreal 2003
Louise Corriveau, Louise Corriveau, Olivier Blein, Weimin Fu, Pierre Pilote, Otto van Breemen, Louise Corriveau, Olivier Blein, Weimin Fu, Pierre Pilote, Otto van Breemen,
Abstract Exploration strategies have traditionally considered felsic gneiss complexes of the Canadian Shield sterile. This paradigm is challenged with the discovery of extensive granulite-facies Cu-Au, Fe oxides-bearing hydrothermal systems in the 1.4 Ga Bondy and 1.5 Ga La Romaine volcano-plutonic complexes of the Grenville Province. Early identification of magnetite-rich units in association with meta-exhalite and pelite-like units was key to targeting the search for mineralization, protolith information and indicators of pre-metamorphic hydrothermal activity during regional surveys of these frontier terrains. Textural evidences for a volcano-plutonic setting were found. There remained, however, numerous impediments to the recognition that the ubiquitous magnetite-laden units and associated aluminous gneiss were hydrothermal in origin. Many metamorphic reactions form magnetite at the amphibolite to granulite facies transition, and hydrothermally-leached rocks resemble metapelite or migmatitic restite, while carbonate alteration zones may look like marble or calc-silicate rock. Non-typical metamorphic mineral assemblages, modes and colours arise when hydrothermally-derived rock types are metamorphosed. These effective markers served as tools for reliable field identification of hydrothermally-altered rocks.

In our case-studies, we traced pre-metamorphic hydrothermally-driven Fe-oxide precipitation in association with sericitization, albitization, pyrophyllite alteration, chloritization, and B enrichment by mapping unusually high contents of (1) magnetite or hematite, (2) biotite, (3) albite, (4) sillimanite, (5) orthopyroxene or phlogopite with cordierite, and (6) tourmaline or kornerupine. The unveiled garnetite, tourmalinite, and aluminous gneiss had assemblages that vary according to metamorphic grade and composition. To assess if high mode of Fe-Mg-Al phases resulted from partial melting (restitic residue) or metamorphism of hydrothermal rocks, we compared leucosome mineral assemblages, shape and amount with that expected of in situ partial melting reactions. In both areas there is no compelling evidence for these units to be restites. In contrast, the presence of lapilli in garnet-cordierite-sillimanite gneiss, though extremely rare, constitutes conclusive evidence for extreme pre-metamorphic high-sulphidation alteration of a volcanic protolith, while Fe-oxides or sillimanite-bearing nodules and veins record a less pervasive alteration. Geochemical research on element mobility and mass balance calculations further testified of an hydrothermal origin for these gneisses. The magnetite-rich units, together with calc-silicate rocks, garnetite, hornblendite, albitite among amphibolite, provided effective guides to sites of fluid discharge and led to the discovery of Cu and Cu-Au showings. With the presence of high-sulphidation alteration, these features suggest early Cu-Au VHMS-type alteration halos within a predominantly felsic composite volcano-plutonic arc setting for both case-studies. Evidences for subsequent F-driven orthomagmatic fluid activity are also present.
Keywords: iron oxides, Grenville Province, Field studies, Metamorphic petrology, iron oxides, high-grade metamorphism, high-grade metamorphism, Cu-Au mineralization, Wakeham Group, Metamorphic petrology, Hydrothermal alteration, Wakeham Group, Metallogeny, Grenville Province, Metallogeny, Canadian shield, Canadian shield, Field studies, Cu-Au mineralization, Hydrothermal alteration
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