Distribution and composition of gold in porphyry gold systems: example from the Biely Vrch deposit, Slovakia

  • Peter Koděra
  • Jaroslav Kozák
  • Jana Brčeková
  • Martin Chovan
  • Jaroslav Lexa
  • Michal Jánošík
  • Adrián Biroň
  • Peter Uhlík
  • František Bakos


The Biely Vrch deposit in the Western Carpathians is assigned to the shallow, sulfide-poor porphyry gold deposit type and has an exceptionally low Cu/Au ratio. According to 3-D geochemical models, there is a limited spatial correlation between Au and Cu due to the primary introduction of gold by a salt melt and Cu by low-density vapor. Despite a rough spatial correlation of gold grades with quartz stockwork intensity, gold is hosted mostly by altered rock, exclusively in native form. Three main gold mineral assemblages were recognized here. In the deepest parts of the system, the K- and Ca-Na silicate gold assemblage is associated with minerals of high-temperature alteration (plagioclase, K-feldspar, actinolite), with gold grades and fineness depending on depth and potassium content of the host rock: K-silicate alteration hosts the lowest fineness gold (~ 914), whereas Ca–Na silicate alteration has the highest (~ 983). The intermediate argillic gold assemblage is the most widespread, with gold hosted mainly by chlorite, illite, smectite, and interstratified illite–chlorite–smectite minerals. The gold fineness is mostly variable (875–990) and inherited from the former gold mineral assemblages. The latest advanced argillic gold assemblage has its gold mostly in kaolinite. The extremely high fineness (~ 994) results from gold remobilization by late-stage aqueous magmatic-hydrothermal fluids. Uncommon bonanza-grade appears where the earlier gold mineral assemblages were further enriched by this remobilized gold. Primary precipitation of gold occurred during ascent and cooling of salt melts at 450 to 309 °C, mostly during retrograde quartz solubility.


Porphyry Gold Western Carpathians Fineness Alteration Biely Vrch 



This work was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency, contract No. 0537-10 and by VEGA grant 1/0560/15. Support by the EMED Slovakia, Ltd., is also acknowledged. We thank Richard Sillitoe and Tim Baker for their constructive reviews that have helped to improve the manuscript and editorial handling by Bernd Lehmann.

Supplementary material

126_2018_798_MOESM1_ESM.xls (156 kb)
ESM Table 1: Summary of analytical data from samples with identified gold, including logging data, WDS data of gold and data of whole-rock XRD analyses and assays. ESM Table 2: Database of all WDS analyses of gold, including grain size, host mineral and affiliation to alteration assemblages. ESM Table 3: Statistic data on grain size of gold in the bonanza sample DVE-11/394.5 (excluding those in ESM Table 2). ESM Table 4: Statistic data on host minerals of gold in individual samples, with affiliation to alteration assemblages. (XLS 156 kb)
126_2018_798_Fig13_ESM.gif (298 kb)
ESM Figure 1:

Compilation of back-scattered electron images of native gold in various mineral associations. a Cluster of several gold grains in K-feldspar associated with magnetite of K-silicate alteration and illite-smectite replacing K-feldspar in shallow depth (DVE-1/58.5). b Gold grain hosted by kaolinite of the advanced argillic alteration (DVE-8A/72.5). c Gold grain attached to chalcopyrite associated with galena and rutile in chlorite replacing K-feldspar of K-silicate alteration (DVE-5A/349.5). d-e Gold enclosed in pyrite and in galena of intermediate argillic alteration (DVE-1/106.5). f Gold grain enclosed in titanite attached to K-feldspar and plagioclase as products of high temperature alteration (DVE-5A/478.2). Kfs K-feldspar, IS illite-smectite, Mag magnetite, Qtz quartz, Rt rutile, Kln kaolinite, Ccp chalcopyrite, Gn galena, Chl chlorite, Py pyrite, Ep epidote, Pl plagioclase, Ttn titanite (GIF 297 kb)

126_2018_798_MOESM2_ESM.eps (14.4 mb)
High Resolution Image (EPS 14755 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geology of Mineral Deposits, Faculty of Natural SciencesComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Mineralogy and Petrology, Faculty of Natural SciencesComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Earth Science Institute of the Slovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  4. 4.Earth Science Institute of the Slovak Academy of SciencesBanská BystricaSlovakia
  5. 5.Green ViewBratislavaSlovakia

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