Contrasting Ephithermal Gold Mineralisation in Andesitic and Rhyolitic Terranes

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
Two types of low-sulphidation epithermal mineralisation may be recognised in volcanic terranes. Chalcedonic Silica- Adularia-Illite type mineralisation is most common in rhyolitic terranes, whereas Crystalline Quartz-Illite-(Adularia- Kaolinite) type mineralisation is more typically formed in andesitic terranes. A third type of epithermal mineralisation, the high sulphidation or Vuggy Silica-Alunite- Kaolinite-Illite type, is also common in andesitic terranes. Episodic violent boiling, accompanying hydraulic fracturing and hydrothermal eruptions, characteristic of geothermal systems in rhyolitic terranes, is stressed for the formation of Chalcedonic Silica mineralisation. Such boiling of deeply circulating meteoric groundwater, with some magmatic fluid contribution, provides chalcedonic veining, episodic banding and brecciation textures, adularia stability, bladed calcite, and extreme loss of H2S from the fluid to cause major gold deposition. Crystalline Quartz mineralisation is probably caused by the mixing of shallow acidic groundwater with ascending deep geothermal fluids beneath andesitic strato- volcanoes. The cooling effect, oxidation, and increased acidity, overcomes the dilution effect, and results in quartz deposition, illite (and locally kaolinite) alteration, and precipitation of metals. Extensive formation of base-metal sulphides further enhances gold deposition. Violent boiling is restricted to local structural dilation sites, potentially producing high grade "bonanza" gold mineralisation.
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