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Mineralium Deposita

, 44:129 | Cite as

Influence of structural setting on sulphur isotopes in Archean orogenic gold deposits, Eastern Goldfields Province, Yilgarn, Western Australia

  • P. F. HodkiewiczEmail author
  • D. I. Groves
  • G. J. Davidson
  • R. F. Weinberg
  • S. G. Hagemann
Article

Abstract

The published mean δ34S values of ore-related pyrites from orogenic gold deposits of the Eastern Goldfields Province, Yilgarn Craton lie between −4‰ and +4‰. As for orogenic gold deposits worldwide, most deposits have positive means and a restricted range of δ34S values, but some have negative means and wider ranges of δ34S values. Wall-rock carbonation and back-mixing of similar-source fluids with different fluid pathways can explain some of the more negative δ34S signatures. However, structural setting appears to be the most important factor controlling ore-fluid oxidation state and hence the distribution of δ34S values in gold-related pyrites. Shear-hosted deposits appear to have experienced fluid-dominated processes such as phase separation, whereas stockwork, vein-hosted or disseminated deposits formed under conditions of greater rock buffering. At Victory-Defiance, in particular, negative δ34S values are more common in gently dipping dilational structures, compared to more compressional steeply dipping structures. It appears most likely that fluid-pressure fluctuations during fault-valve cycles establish different fluid-flow regimes in structures with different orientations. Rapid fluid-pressure fluctuations in dilational structures during seismic activity can cause partitioning of reduced gas phases from the ore fluid during extreme phase separation and hence are an effective method of ore-fluid oxidation, leading to large, local fluctuations in oxidation state. It is thus not necessary to invoke mixing with oxidised magmatic fluids to explain δ34S signatures indicative of oxidation. In any case, available, robust geochronology in the Eastern Goldfields Province does not support the direct involvement of oxidised magmatic fluids from adjacent granitic intrusions in orogenic gold genesis. Thus, negative mean δ34S values and large variations in δ34S values of ore-related pyrites in world-class orogenic gold deposits are interpreted to result from multiple mechanisms of gold precipitation from a single, ubiquitous ore fluid in varying structural settings, rather than from the involvement of oxidised ore fluids from a different source. Such signatures are indicative, but not diagnostic, of anomalously large orogenic gold systems.

Keywords

Archean Yilgarn Orogenic lode gold Sulphur isotopes 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was part of the Ph.D. research of PFH (Hodkiewicz 2003) at the University of Western Australia, which was supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry) scholarship and was part of Australian Minerals Industry Research Association Project P511. Thanks to Keith Harris, manager of the Central Science Laboratory at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, University of Tasmania, for assistance with sulphur isotope analyses. Special thanks also to Paul Kitto for logistical and analytical assistance and for helpful discussions and access to unpublished data. We are most grateful for the critical reviews of David Huston and John Walshe which resulted in a significantly improved paper.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. F. Hodkiewicz
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • D. I. Groves
    • 1
  • G. J. Davidson
    • 3
  • R. F. Weinberg
    • 4
  • S. G. Hagemann
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Exploration TargetingUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.SRK ConsultingWest PerthAustralia
  3. 3.School of Earth SciencesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  4. 4.School of GeosciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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