Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 489–512 | Cite as

The Key Tuffite, Matagami Camp, Abitibi Greenstone Belt, Canada: petrogenesis and implications for VMS formation and exploration



The Key Tuffite is a stratigraphic marker unit for most of the zinc-rich volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits of the Matagami Camp in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt. This 2- to 6-m-thick unit was previously interpreted as a mixture of ash fall (andesitic to rhyolitic tuffaceous components) and volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS)-related chemical seafloor precipitate (exhalative component). Previous attempts to develop geochemical exploration vectoring tools using metal content within the Key Tuffite were mostly inconclusive due to the complex nature of the Key Tuffite unit and a poor understanding of its composition, origin and relationship with the VMS-forming hydrothermal systems. Detailed mapping and thorough lithogeochemistry of the Key Tuffite in the vicinity of the Perseverance and Bracemac-McLeod deposits indicate that the Key Tuffite is a homogeneous calc-alkaline, andesitic tuff that was deposited before the VMS deposits were formed. The unit is mostly devoid of exhalative component, but it is strongly hydrothermally altered close to orebodies. This is characterized by a strong proximal chloritization and a distal sericitization, which grades laterally into the unaltered Key Tuffite. Neither the Key Tuffite nor the ore was formed by seafloor exhalative processes for the two studied deposits. This probably explains why previously proposed exploration models based on metal scavenging proved unsuccessful and suggests that a re-evaluation of the exhalative model should be done at the scale of the mining camp. However, as shown in this study, hydrothermal alteration can be used to vector towards ore along the Key Tuffite.


VMS Exhalite Replacement Abitibi Matagami Bracemac-McLeod Perseverance 



This Ph.D. project is a part of a larger research program on the Matagami mining camp, including a volcanology Ph.D. (INRS-Quebec) and a geophysical Ph.D. (École Polytechnique-Montreal). Financial support for this study was provided by NSERC, CONSOREM, DIVEX, Geological Survey of Canada, Glencore (Previously Xstrata Zinc), Donner Metals, SOQUEM and Nyrstar (previously Breakwater Resources). We thank the companies for the authorization to diffuse these results. J-A Debreil and R. Daigneault are thanked for useful discussions. R. Adair (Donner Metals) is additionally thanked for his informal review of a preliminary version of the document. N. Yapi is thanked for collecting samples in 2008. A. Paulin-Bissonnette is also thanked for his contribution as undergraduate field assistant during the summer 2010. We are grateful to S.A.S. Dare, Research Associate at UQAC, for proofreading the English text. Finally, the manuscript greatly benefited from comments and suggestions by D. Lentz and P. Mercier-Langevin. Thanks are given to T. Bissig and G. Beaudoin for their editorial handling.

Supplementary material

126_2013_499_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (70 kb)
ESM 1 Results of whole-rock analyses of the Key Tuffite, calculated precursor and reference materials to monitor the quality of the whole rock analyses. Results and methodology details of the LA-ICP-MS analysis realized on individual layers of the Key Tuffite. (XLSX 69 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Experimental and Quantitative Metallogeny Research Laboratory (LAMEQ)Université du Québec à ChicoutimiChicoutimiCanada
  2. 2.GlencoreBureau d’exploration MatagamiMatagamiCanada

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