, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 199-215

P–T composition and evolution of paleofluids in the Paleoproterozoic Mag Hill IOCG system, Contact Lake belt, Northwest Territories, Canada

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Abstract

The Echo Bay stratovolcano complex and Contact Lake Belt of the Great Bear Magmatic Zone, Northwest Territories, host a series of coalescing Paleoproterozoic hydrothermal systems that affected an area of several hundred square kilometers. They were caused by intrusion of synvolcanic diorite–monzodioritic plutons into andesitic host rocks, producing several characteristic hydrothermal assemblages. They include early and proximal albite, magnetite–actinolite–apatite, and potassic (K-feldspar) alteration, followed by more distal hematite, phyllic (quartz–sericite–pyrite), and propylitic (chlorite–epidote–carbonate±sericite±albite±quartz) alteration, and finally by late-stage polymetallic epithermal veins. These alteration types are characteristic of iron oxide copper–gold deposits, however, with distal and lower-temperature assemblages similar to porphyry Cu systems. Magnetite–actinolite–apatite alteration formed from high temperature (up to 560 °C) fluids with average salinity of 12.8 wt% NaCl equivalent. The prograde propylitic and phyllic alteration stages are associated with fluids with temperatures varying from 80 to 430 °C and a wide salinity range (0.5–45.6 wt% NaCl equivalent). Similarly, wide fluid temperature (104–450 °C) and salinity (4.2–46.1 wt% NaCl equivalent) ranges are recorded for the phyllic alteration. This was followed by Cu–Ag–U–Zn–Co–Pb sulfarsenide mineralization in late-stage epithermal veins formed at shallow depths and temperatures from 270 °C to as low as 105 °C. The polymetallic veins precipitated from high salinity (mean 30 wt% NaCl equivalent) dense fluids (1.14 g/cm3) with a vapor pressure of 3.8 bars, typical of epithermal conditions. Fluid inclusion evidence indicates that mixed fluids with evolving physicochemical properties were responsible for the formation of the alteration assemblages and mineralization at Mag Hill. An early high temperature, moderate salinity, and magmatic fluid was subsequently modified variably by boiling, mixing with cooler low-salinity meteoric water, and simple cooling. The evidence is consistent with emplacement of the source plutons and stocks into an epithermal environment within ~1 km of surface. This generated near-surface high-temperature alteration in a dynamic hydrothermal system that collapsed (telescoped) resulting in widespread evidence of boiling and epithermal mineralization superimposed on earlier stages of alteration.

Editorial handling: R. Xavier