Regional-Scale Hydrothermal Alteration In The Central Blake River Group, Western Abitibi Subprovince, Canada- Implications For Vms Prospectivity

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Journal Article: Regional-Scale Hydrothermal Alteration In The Central Blake River Group, Western Abitibi Subprovince, Canada- Implications For Vms Prospectivity

Abstract
The Late Archean Blake River Group is a thick succession of predominantly mafic volcanic rocks within the southern zone of the Abitibi greenstone belt. It contains a number of silicic volcanic centers of different size, including the large Noranda volcanic complex, which is host to 17 past-producing volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits. The Noranda complex consists of a 7- to 9-km-thick succession of bimodal mafic and felsic volcanic rocks erupted during five major cycles of volcanism. Massive sulfide formation coincided with a period of intense magmatic activity (cycle III) and the formation of the Noranda cauldron. Hydrothermal alteration in these rocks is interpreted to reflect large-scale hydrothermal fluid flow associated with rapid crustal extension and rifting of the volcanic complex. The alteration includes abundant albite, chlorite, epidote and quartz (silicification), which exhibit broad stratigraphic and structural control and correlate with previously mapped whole-rock oxygen isotope zonation. The Mine Sequence volcanic rocks are characterized by abundant iron-rich chlorite (Fe/Fe+Mg >0.5), hydrothermal amphibole (ferroactinolite) and coarse-grained epidote of clinozoisite composition (<10 wt% Fe2O3). Volcanic rocks of the pre-cauldron sequences, which contain only subeconomic stringer mineralization, are characterized by less abundant chlorite and mainly fine-grained epidote (>10 wt% Fe2O3) lacking the clinozoisite solid solution. Alteration in the Mine Sequence volcanic rocks persists along strike well beyond the limits of the main ore deposits (as far as several tens of kilometers) and can be readily distinguished from greenschist facies metamorphic assemblages at a regional scale. The lack of similar alteration in the pre-cauldron sequences is consistent with limited O-18-depletion and suggests that the early history of the volcanic complex did not support large-scale, high-temperature fluid flow in these rocks. Comparisons with a much smaller, barren volcanic complex in nearby Ben Nevis township reveal important differences in the alteration mineralogy between volcanoes of different size, with implications for area selection during regional-scale mineral exploration. The Ben Nevis Complex consists of a 3- to 4-km-thick succession of mafic, intermediate and felsic volcanic rocks centered on a small subvolcanic intrusion. Alteration of the volcanic rocks comprises mainly low-temperature assemblages of prehnite, pumpellyite, magnesium-rich chlorite (Fe/Fe+Mg <0.5), iron-rich epidote (>10 wt% Fe2O3) and calcite. Actinolite +/- magnetite alteration occurs proximal to the intrusive core of the complex, but the limited extent of this alteration indicates only local high-temperature fluid circulation adjacent to the intrusion. A distal zone of carbonate alteration is located 4-6 km from the center of the volcano. Although iron-bearing carbonates are present locally within this zone, the absence of siderite argues against a high-temperature origin for this alteration. These observations do not offer positive encouragement for the existence of a fossil geothermal system of sufficient size or intensity to have produced a large massive sulfide deposit.

Authors 
M. D. Hannington, F. Santaguida, I. M. Kjarsgaard and L. M. Cathles








Published Journal 
Mineralium Deposita, 2003





DOI 
Not Provided
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Citation

M. D. Hannington,F. Santaguida,I. M. Kjarsgaard,L. M. Cathles. 2003. Regional-Scale Hydrothermal Alteration In The Central Blake River Group, Western Abitibi Subprovince, Canada- Implications For Vms Prospectivity. Mineralium Deposita. (!) .