Brazil's premier gold province. Part II: geology and genesis of gold deposits in the Archean Rio das Velhas greenstone belt, Quadrilátero Ferrífero
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Orogenic, gold deposits are hosted by rocks of the Archean Rio das Velhas greenstone belt in the Quadrilátero Ferrífero region, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, one of the major gold provinces in the world. The gold deposits occur at the base of the mafic–ultramafic succession, with the most important orebodies controlled by E–W-striking, strike-slip faults. The main mineralization styles are (1) structurally controlled, sulfide replacement zones in banded iron formation (BIF); (2) disseminated sulfide minerals and gold in hydrothermally altered rocks along shear zones; and (3) auriferous quartz–carbonate–sulfide veins and veinlets in mafic, ultramafic, and felsic volcanic rocks, and also in clastic sedimentary rocks. The most common host rocks for ore are metamorphosed oxide- and carbonate-facies banded iron (± iron-rich metachert) formations (e.g., the Cuiabá, São Bento and Raposos deposits) and the lapa seca unit, which is a local term for intensely carbonatized rock (e.g., the giant Morro Velho mine with >450 t of contained gold). Metabasalts host most of the remaining gold deposits. Mineralogical characteristics and fluid inclusion studies suggest variations in the H2O/CO2 ratio of a low-salinity, near-neutral, reducing, sulfur-bearing, ore fluid. The presence of abundant CH4-rich inclusions is related to reduction of the original H2O–CO2 fluid via interaction with carbonaceous matter in the wallrocks. Oxygen fugacity was close to that of graphite saturation, with variations likely to have been influenced by reaction with the carbonaceous matter. Carbon-rich phyllites and schists, which commonly bound ore-bearing horizons, seem to have played both a physical and chemical role in localizing hydrothermal mineral deposition. Microtextural studies indicate that gold deposition was mainly related to desulfidation reactions, and was paragenetically coeval with precipitation of arsenic-rich iron sulfide minerals. Carbon isotope data are compatible with dissolution of CO2 from pre-existing mantle-derived carbonation zones, and indicate fluids of metamorphic origin. A major episode of hydrothermal fluid introduction into different rock types caused epigenetic gold formation and wallrock alteration at about 300 to 400 °C during the late stages of regional deformation and metamorphism of the greenstone belt. The age of gold mineralization is constrained to be younger than 2,698 and perhaps closer to 2,670 Ma.
KeywordsPyrite Shear Zone Gold Deposit Gold Mineralization Quartz Vein
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