Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 76–99 | Cite as

The development of volcanic hosted massive sulfide and barite–gold orebodies on Wetar Island, Indonesia

  • Philip M. Scotney
  • Stephen Roberts
  • Richard J. Herrington
  • Adrian J. Boyce
  • Ray Burgess


Wetar Island is composed of Neogene volcanic rocks and minor oceanic sediments and forms part of the Inner Banda Arc. The island preserves precious metal-rich volcanogenic massive sulfide and barite deposits, which produced approximately 17 metric tonnes of gold. The polymetallic massive sulfides are dominantly pyrite (locally arsenian), with minor chalcopyrite which are cut by late fractures infilled with covellite, chalcocite, tennantite–tetrahedrite, enargite, bornite and Fe-poor sphalerite. Barite orebodies are developed on the flanks and locally overly the massive sulfides. These orebodies comprise friable barite and minor sulfides, cemented by a series of complex arsenates, oxides, hydroxides and sulfate, with gold present as <10 μm free grains. Linear and pipe-like structures comprising barite and iron-oxides beneath the barite deposits are interpreted as feeder structures to the barite mineralization. Hydrothermal alteration around the orebodies is zoned and dominated by illite–kaolinite–smectite assemblages; however, local alunite and pyrophyllite are indicative of late acidic, oxidizing hydrothermal fluids proximal to mineralization. Altered footwall volcanic rocks give an illite K–Ar age of 4.7±0.16 Ma and a 40Ar/39Ar age of 4.93±0.21 Ma. Fluid inclusion data suggest that hydrothermal fluid temperatures were around 250–270°C, showed no evidence of boiling, with a mean salinity of 3.2 wt% equivalent NaCl. The δ34S composition of sulfides ranges between +3.3‰ and +11.7‰ and suggests a significant contribution of sulfur from the underlying volcanic edifice. The δ34S barite data vary between +22.4‰ and +31.0‰, close to Miocene seawater sulfate. Whole rock 87Sr/86Sr analyses of unaltered volcanic rocks (0.70748–0.71106) reflect contributions from subducted continental material in their source region. The 87Sr/86Sr barite data (0.7076–0.7088) indicate a dominant Miocene seawater component to the hydrothermal system. The mineral deposits formed on the flanks of a volcanic edifice at depths of ~2 km. Spectacular sulfide mounds showing talus textures are localized onto faults, which provided the main pathways for high-temperature hydrothermal fluids and the development of associated stockworks. The orebodies were covered and preserved by post-mineralization chert, gypsum, Globigerina-bearing limestone, lahars, subaqueous debris flows and pyroclastics rocks.


Gold Barite Massive sulfide Banda Arc Submarine hydrothermal systems 



PS acknowledges the generous financial support of BHP-Billiton, The Natural History Museum and The University of Southampton. The logistical and financial support of BHP-Billiton through Chris Farmer, David Hopgood, David First and James Macdonald is particularly acknowledged. Tony Fallick, John Murray, Andy Barker, Robin Armstrong, Ernie Rutter and Damon Teagle provided key insights throughout the project. The SUERC is funded through support of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Scottish Universities. AJB is funded by NERC support of the Isotope Community Support Facility at SUERC. We acknowledge careful review of the manuscript by Donna Sewell and an anonymous referee.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip M. Scotney
    • 1
    • 5
  • Stephen Roberts
    • 1
  • Richard J. Herrington
    • 2
  • Adrian J. Boyce
    • 3
  • Ray Burgess
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Ocean and Earth Science, Southampton Oceanography CentreUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Department of MineralogyNatural History MuseumLondonUK
  3. 3.Isotope Geosciences UnitSUERCGlasgowUK
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  5. 5.WRG3 Sidings CourtDancasterUK

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