Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 695–714 | Cite as

Age constraints on Tarkwaian palaeoplacer and lode-gold formation in the Tarkwa-Damang district, SW Ghana

  • Jon-Philippe Pigois
  • David I. Groves
  • Ian R. Fletcher
  • Neal J. McNaughton
  • Lawrence W. Snee


Two major epigenetic gold-forming events are recorded in the world-class gold province of southwest Ghana. A pre-Tarkwaian event was the source of the world-class Tarkwa palaeoplacers whereas post-Birimian and Tarkwaian deformation, which was related to the Eburnean orogeny, gave rise to the world-class (e.g. Prestea) to giant (e.g. Obuasi) orogenic gold deposits which have made the region famous for more than 2,500 years. A maximum age of 2133±4 Ma for Tarkwaian sedimentation is provided by 71 of 111 concordant SHRIMP II U–Pb dates from detrital zircons in Tarkwaian clastic rocks from Damang and Bippo Bin, northeast of Tarkwa. The overall data distribution broadly overlaps the relatively poorly constrained ages of Birimian volcanism and associated Dixcove-type granitoid emplacement, indicating syntectonic development of the Tarkwaian sedimentary basin. These zircon ages argue against derivation of the palaeoplacer gold from an orogenic gold source related to the compressional phase of an orogeny significantly older than the Eburnean orogeny. Instead, they suggest that the gold source was either orogenic gold lodes related to an earlier compressional phase of a diachronous Eburnean orogeny or ca. 2200–2100 Ma intrusion-related gold lode. The CO2-rich fluid inclusions in associated vein-quartz pebbles are permissive of either source. At the Damang deposit, an epigenetic, orogenic lode-gold system clearly overprinted, and sulphidised low-grade palaeoplacer hematite–magnetite gold occurrences in the Banket Series conglomerate within the Tarkwaian sedimentary sequence. Gold mineralisation is demonstrably post-peak metamorphism, as gold-related alteration assemblages overprint metamorphic assemblages in host rocks. In alteration zones surrounding the dominant, subhorizontal auriferous quartz veins, there are rare occurrences of hydrothermal xenotime which give a SHRIMP U–Pb age of 2063±9 Ma for gold mineralisation. The similar structural timing of epigenetic gold mineralisation in Tarkwaian host rocks at Damang to that in mainly Birimian host rocks elsewhere in southwest Ghana, particularly at Obuasi, suggests that 2063±9 Ma is the best available age estimate for widespread orogenic gold mineralisation in the region. Argon–argon ages of 2029±4 and 2034±4 Ma for hydrothermal biotite from auriferous quartz veins appear to represent uplift and cooling of the region below about 300 °C, as estimates of the temperature of gold mineralisation are higher, at around 400 °C. If peak metamorphism, with temperatures of about 550 °C, is assumed to have occurred at about 2100 Ma, the biotite ages, in combination with the xenotime age, suggest a broadly constant uplift rate for the region of about 1 km per 10 million years from about 2100 to 2025 Ma.


Gold Geochronology Xenotime Damang Tarkwa Ashanti Ghana 



This study is part of a PhD study funded by a University Postgraduate Award and Ranger Minerals Ltd. Ghana Gold Fields Ltd. is thanked for permission to publish the information presented in this study. Special thanks are directed towards Andrew Tunks for his guidance in the field. Other Abosso Goldfields Ltd. geologists, Sam Annie, Gary Brabham, Felix Dong, Emmanuel Gladzah, Mike McKevitt, Gyedu Nkieta and Jamie Rogers, are also thanked for their support and advice during fieldwork. Paul Karpeta is thanked for useful suggestions. Sample preparation was at the UWA Mineral Separation Laboratory under the expert supervision of Marion Marshall. All SEM and WDS work was undertaken at the University of Western Australia in the Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis directed by Brendan Griffin. Zircon and xenotime analyses were performed at the Western Australian SHRIMP facilities operated by a university-government consortium with ARC support. Biotite 40Ar/39Ar analyses were performed at the US Geological Survey in Denver. The paper has been greatly improved based on the critical reviews of Drs. Rich Goldfarb and Noreen Vielreicher.

Supplementary material

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Appendix (PDF 109 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon-Philippe Pigois
    • 1
  • David I. Groves
    • 1
  • Ian R. Fletcher
    • 1
  • Neal J. McNaughton
    • 1
  • Lawrence W. Snee
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Global Metallogeny, School of Earth and Geographical SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.US Geological SurveyDenver Federal CenterDenverUSA

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