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Constraints on the genesis of gold mineralization at the Homestake Gold Deposit, Black Hills, South Dakota from rhenium–osmium sulfide geochronology

Abstract

The Homestake gold deposit, located in the Black Hills, South Dakota, USA, is one of the largest known hydrothermal gold deposits globally, with total mining production exceeding 40 Moz Au. Rhenium–osmium geochronology of ore-associated arsenopyrite and pyrrhotite was performed in an effort to delineate the timing of gold mineralization in relation to known tectonothermal events in the northern Black Hills. Arsenopyrite yields a rhenium–osmium (Re–Os) age of 1,736 ± 8 Ma (mean squared weighted deviation = 1.6), consistent with existing age constraints for gold mineralization, whereas Re–Os pyrrhotite data are highly scattered and do not yield a meaningful mineralization age. This is taken to indicate that the Re–Os arsenopyrite chronometer is robust to at least 400°C, whereas the Re–Os pyrrhotite chronometer is likely disturbed by temperatures of 300–350°C. The Re–Os arsenopyrite age and initial Os ratio (0.28 ± 0.15) are interpreted to indicate that gold was introduced at ca. 1,730 Ma, coincident with the onset of exhumation of crustal blocks and, possibly, the earliest intrusive phases of Harney Peak granite magmatism. New in situ U–Pb monazite analyses from an aplite dike in the east-central Black Hills indicate that granite magmatism was a protracted event, persisting until at least ca. 1,690 Ma.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was provided by an Alberta Ingenuity Studentship and a Society of Economic Geologists student research grant to RMM, and an NSERC Discovery Grant to RAC. Gayle Hatchard, Jaime Donnelly, GuangCheng Chen, Sergei Matveev, Rajeev Nair, and Diane Caird are gratefully acknowledged for technical support at the University of Alberta. We acknowledge the logistical support of the staff at the Homestake Mine; mine geologists James Berry, David Thornton, Tom Transinger and, in particular, chief geologist Bruce McDonald for granting access to the mine. We would like to thank Barrick Gold Corporation staff John McDonough and Karl Burke for coordinating and supplying data and Laurie Gehner for assistance with drill, assay, and section data. CCB would like to thank Mike Terry for his wealth of knowledge on the Homestake Mine and Black Hills and for logistical support and Colin Paterson for access to his photographic library and for use of facilities at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. CCB gratefully acknowledges the Departmento de Geodinamica at the Universidad de Granada where part of the research for this paper was undertaken and the facilities provided by the School of Earth Science at James Cook University. The Radiogenic Isotope Facility at the University of Alberta is supported, in part, by an NSERC Major Resources Support Grant. Fernando Barra and an anonymous reviewer are thanked for insightful reviews of the manuscript.

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Morelli, R.M., Bell, C.C., Creaser, R.A. et al. Constraints on the genesis of gold mineralization at the Homestake Gold Deposit, Black Hills, South Dakota from rhenium–osmium sulfide geochronology. Miner Deposita 45, 461–480 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-010-0284-9

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Keywords

  • Re–Os
  • Arsenopyrite
  • Pyrrhotite
  • Gold
  • Homestake
  • Black Hills
  • Harney Peak granite