Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 319–342 | Cite as

The world-class Howard’s Pass SEDEX Zn-Pb district, Selwyn Basin, Yukon. Part I: trace element compositions of pyrite record input of hydrothermal, diagenetic, and metamorphic fluids to mineralization

  • Michael G. GaddEmail author
  • Daniel Layton-Matthews
  • Jan M. Peter
  • Suzanne J. Paradis


The Howard’s Pass district, located in Yukon Territory, comprises 14 Zn-Pb sedimentary exhalative (SEDEX) deposits that collectively contain approximately 400.7 Mt grading at 4.5 % Zn and 1.5 % Pb. Sulfide mineralization is hosted in carbonaceous and calcareous to siliceous mudstones. Pyrite is a minor but ubiquitous component. Detailed petrographic analyses reveal that pyrite has a complex and protracted growth history, and multiple generations of pyrite are preserved in single grains. Combined electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) and laser ablation-inductively coupled mass plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) of paragenetically complex pyrite reveal minor and trace element zonation that mimic textural features. These data provide information on the relative timing and cation content of depositional (i.e., ambient marine), hydrothermal, and metamorphic fluids. These data also identify a suite of nonore elements (Mn, As, Ag, Sb, and Tl) associated with the Zn-Pb mineralizing hydrothermal fluids. Lithogeochemical data and statistical results corroborate the microanalytical findings. These elements are associated with both syngenetic to earliest diagenetic pyrite and later diagenetic pyrite overgrowths, suggesting that SEDEX mineralization was not only the product of hydrothermal precipitates that settled on the seafloor, but also dense metalliferous brine also settled on, and percolated through, unconsolidated carbonaceous muds and precipitated metals. This genetic model is similar to that proposed for the Paleoproterozoic HYC Zn-Pb-Ag SEDEX deposit in northern Australia, and it is likely that common processes and ambient conditions led to the formation and preservation of both of these large SEDEX districts.


Howard’s Pass Yukon SEDEX Zn-Pb LA-ICP-MS Pyrite Trace elements 



This research was jointly funded by NSERC-CRD 387591-09, CAMIRO Project 08E04 “Geochemistry of Shales as Vectors to Ore Deposits,” and the Targeted Geoscience Initiative-4 Program of the Geological Survey of Canada. We thank Jason Dunning, Gabe Xue, Wolfgang Schleiss, and Jelle DeBruyckere of Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. for providing access to drill core samples and technical information, without which this work could not have been done. Insightful and thorough reviews by Nigel Cook, Patrick Mercier-Langevin, and John Slack greatly improved this manuscript. We sincerely thank the SEGCF for financial support. This is Geological Survey of Canada contribution 20140293.

Supplementary material

126_2015_611_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (123 kb)
ESM 1 LA-ICP-MS data for pyrite from the FLMD, USMS, ACTM and CCMS. (XLSX 123 kb)
126_2015_611_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (83 kb)
ESM 2 Whole-rock compositional data from the FLMD, USMS, ACTM and CCMS. (XLSX 83 kb)
126_2015_611_Fig19_ESM.jpg (193 kb)

Bivariate plots of Fe vs. Mn (A), Tl (B), As (C), Sb (D), and of Zn vs. Mn (E), Tl (F), As (G) and Sb (H). These are time-resolved LA-ICP-MS data (n = 1274) that are shown in the element distribution maps of Fig. 15 (i.e., drill core sample XYC-190-372.0). Pearson correlation coefficients (r) are also shown for each element pair. (JPEG 192 kb)

126_2015_611_MOESM3_ESM.eps (6.8 mb)
High resolution image (EPS 6939 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael G. Gadd
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Layton-Matthews
    • 1
  • Jan M. Peter
    • 2
  • Suzanne J. Paradis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geological Sciences and Geological EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Geological Survey of CanadaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Geological Survey of CanadaSidneyCanada

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