Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 39, Issue 8, pp 822–844 | Cite as

Lewis Ponds, a hybrid carbonate and volcanic-hosted polymetallic massive sulphide deposit, New South Wales, Australia

  • Michael W. Agnew
  • Ross R. Large
  • Stuart W. Bull


The Lewis Ponds Zn–Pb–Cu–Ag–Au deposit, located in the eastern Lachlan Fold Belt, central western New South Wales, exhibits the characteristics of both volcanic-hosted massive sulphide and carbonate-hosted replacement deposits. Two stratabound massive to disseminated sulphide zones, Main and Toms, occur in a tightly folded Upper Silurian sequence of marine felsic volcanic and sedimentary rocks. They have a combined indicated resource of 5.7 Mt grading 3.5% Zn, 2.0% Pb, 0.19% Cu, 97 g/t Ag and 1.9 g/t Au. Main Zone is hosted by a thick unit of poorly sorted mixed provenance breccia, limestone-clast breccia and quartz crystal-rich sandstone, whereas Toms Zone occurs in the overlying siltstone. Pretectonic carbonate–chalcopyrite–pyrite and quartz–pyrite stringer veins occur in the footwall porphyritic dacite, south of Toms Zone. Strongly sheared dolomite–chalcopyrite–pyrrhotite veins directly underlie the Toms massive sulphide lens. The mineralized zones consist predominantly of pyrite, sphalerite and galena. Paragenetically early framboidal, dendritic and botryoidal pyrite aggregates and tabular pyrrhotite pseudomorphs of sulphate occur throughout the breccia and sandstone beds that host Main Zone, but are rarely preserved in the annealed massive sulphide in Toms Zone. Main and Toms zones are associated with a semi-conformable hydrothermal alteration envelope, characterized by texturally destructive chlorite-, dolomite- and quartz-rich assemblages. Dolomite, chlorite, quartz, calcite and sulphides have selectively replaced breccia and sandstone beds in the Main Zone host sequence, whereas the underlying porphyritic dacite is weakly sericite altered. Vuggy and botryoidal textures resulted from partial dissolution of the dolomite-altered sedimentary rocks and unimpeded growth of base metal sulphides, carbonate and quartz into open cavities. The intense chlorite-rich alteration assemblage, underlying Toms Zone, grades outward into a weak pervasive sericite–quartz assemblage with distance from the massive sulphide lens. Limestone clasts and hydrothermal dolomite at Lewis Ponds are enriched in light carbon and oxygen isotopes. The dolomite yielded δ13CVPDB values of −11 to +1‰ and δ18OVSMOW values of 6 to 16‰. Liquid–vapour fluid inclusions in the dolomite have low salinities (1.4–7.7 equiv. wt% NaCl) and homogenization temperatures (166–232°C for 1,000 m water depth). Dolomitization probably involved fluid mixing or fluid–rock interactions between evolved heated seawater and the limestone-bearing facies, prior to and during mineralization. δ34SVCDT values range from 2.0‰ to 5.0‰ in the massive sulphide and 3.9‰ to 7.4‰ in the footwall carbonate–chalcopyrite–pyrite stringer veins, indicating that the hydrothermal fluid may have contained mamgatic sulphur and a component of partially reduced seawater. The sulphide mineral assemblages at Lewis Ponds are consistent with moderate to strongly reduced conditions during diagenesis and mineralization. Low temperature dolomitization of limestone-bearing facies in the Main Zone host sequence created secondary porosity and provided a reactive host for fluid-rock interactions. Main Zone formed by lateral fluid flow and sub-seafloor replacement of the poorly sorted breccia and sandstone beds. Base metal sulphide deposition probably resulted from dissolution of dolomite, fluid mixing and increased fluid pH. Pyrite, sphalerite and galena precipitated from a relatively low temperature, 150–250°C hydrothermal fluid. In contrast, Toms Zone was emplaced into fine-grained sediment at or near the seafloor, above a zone of focused up-flowing hydrothermal fluids. Copper-rich assemblages were deposited in the Toms Zone footwall and massive sulphide lenses in Main and Toms zones as the hydrothermal system intensified. During the D1 deformation, fracture-controlled fluids within the Lewis Ponds fault zone and adjacent footwall volcanic succession remobilized sulphides into syntectonic quartz veins. Lewis Ponds is a rare example of a synvolcanic sub-seafloor hydrothermal system developed within fossiliferous limestone-bearing facies. The close spatial association between limestone, hydrothermal dolomite, massive sulphide and dacite provides a basis for new exploration targets elsewhere in New South Wales.


Volcanic-hosted massive sulphide Carbonate-hosted replacement Sulphide textures Limestone Lachlan Fold Belt Hill End Trough Australia 



This paper is based on a PhD study undertaken by MWA at the Centre for Ore Deposit Research, School of Earth Sciences, University of Tasmania. The project was sponsored by a Strategic Partnerships with Industry, Research and Training (SPIRT) scholarship between the Australian Research Council and Tri Origin Australia NL (now Tri Origin Minerals Ltd), and an Australian Postgraduate Award Industry scholarship. Additional financial support was obtained from the Centre for Ore Deposit Research, for which the principal author is most grateful. The reviewers and Associate Editor are sincerely thanked for providing helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael W. Agnew
    • 1
  • Ross R. Large
    • 1
  • Stuart W. Bull
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Ore Deposit Research, School of Earth SciencesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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