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The structural controls of gold mineralisation within the Bardoc Tectonic Zone, Eastern Goldfields Province, Western Australia: implications for gold endowment in shear systems

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Abstract

The Bardoc Tectonic Zone (BTZ) of the late Archaean Eastern Goldfields Province, Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, is physically linked along strike to the Boulder-Lefroy Shear Zone (BLSZ), one of the richest orogenic gold shear systems in the world. However, gold production in the BTZ has only been one order of magnitude smaller than that of the BLSZ (∼100 t Au vs >1,500 t Au). The reasons for this difference can be found in the relative timing, distribution and style(s) of deformation that controlled gold deposition in the two shear systems. Deformation within the BTZ was relatively simple and is associated with tight to iso-clinal folding and reverse to transpressive shear zones over a <12-km-wide area of high straining, where lithological contacts have been rotated towards the plane of maximum shortening. These structures control gold mineralisation and also correspond to the second major shortening phase of the province (D2). In contrast, shearing within the BLSZ is concentrated to narrow shear zones (<2 km wide) cutting through rocks at a range of orientations that underwent more complex dip- and strike-slip deformation, possibly developed throughout the different deformation phases recorded in the region (D1–D4). Independent of other physico-chemical factors, these differences provided for effective fluid localisation to host units with greater competency contrasts during a prolonged mineralisation process in the BLSZ as compared to the more simple structural history of the BTZ.

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Acknowledgment

Research reported herein was released with permission of the CEO, predictive mineral discovery*Cooperative Research Centre. Gerard Tripp, Scott Halley, Peter Sheehan, Robert Henderson and Darren Allingham of Placer Dome Asia Pacific (now Barrick Gold) are especially thanked for feedback and field assistance. Discussions with Caroline Forbes and Richard Blewett and constructive reviews by Jochen Kolb, Damien Gaboury, Richard Goldfarb, Georges Beaudoin (associate editor) and Larry Meinert (editor) are greatly appreciated for improving the quality of this manuscript. A. Morey acknowledges the support of a student travel grant awarded by the SGA to present the preliminary findings of this study at the 8th Biennial SGA Meeting, Beijing 2005.

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Correspondence to Frank P. Bierlein.

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Editorial handling: G. Beaudoin

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Morey, A.A., Weinberg, R.F. & Bierlein, F.P. The structural controls of gold mineralisation within the Bardoc Tectonic Zone, Eastern Goldfields Province, Western Australia: implications for gold endowment in shear systems. Miner Deposita 42, 583–600 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-007-0125-7

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Keywords

  • Yilgarn Craton
  • Western Australia
  • Orogenic gold
  • Deformation
  • Shear zones
  • Late Archaean