The Serra Pelada Au-PGE deposit, Serra dos Carajás (Pará State, Brazil): geological and geochemical indications for a composite mineralising process
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The Serra Pelada Au-PGE-rich deposit is located in the Serra dos Carajás, a leading mining area in Brazil. This region is characterised by a complex geological and structural framework and is affected by deep lateritisation which has lasted for more than 70 Ma. The Serra Pelada deposit is emplaced in a late-Archean low-grade metasedimentary sequence (Rio Fresco/Águas Claras Formation) which is host to other gold deposits in the region (Igarapé Bahia, Águas Claras). The Rio Fresco/Águas Claras sequence was deposited in tectonic basins developed on Archean basement and Au-bearing greenstone terranes which were intruded by PGE-rich layered mafic complexes (e.g. Luanga). The Serra Pelada mineralisation is located along a regional, complex system of strike-slip faults (Cinzento-Carajás systems) which were active during the late Archean to early Proterozoic. The mineralisation appears to be concentrated along a faulted hinge zone of a fold. Ore zone rock facies are dominated by low-grade ferruginous to carbonaceous metasiltstones and minor sandstones, locally brecciated and cemented by quartz (±sulphide) stockwork. Supergene alteration led to partial to total transformation into friable aggregates of kaolinite, Fe oxide-hydroxides, silica and secondary phosphate-sulphates even at depths exceeding 200 m. Precious metals are exceptionally enriched, with up to more than 1,000 ppm Au+PGE in some peculiar ferruginous-graphitic zones locally called "hidrotermalito". Geochemistry shows complex patterns of major and trace elements, particularly rare-earth elements (REE), in mineralised vs. nonmineralised samples. These patterns are interpreted in terms of variable degree of superposition of hydrothermal and supergene alteration. Precious metals show progressive increase from samples with hydrothermal imprint to samples with supergene imprint. The geological evolution of the Carajás region and the characteristics of mineralisation at Serra Pelada may suggest a composite mineralising process: hydrothermal activity (by fluids likely originated from granitoids) was followed by supergene alteration during long-lasting lateritisation to develop extreme precious metal enrichments in a geological context probably already anomalous for Au and PGE.
KeywordsKaolinite Siltstone Gold Deposit Precious Metal Chem Geol
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