The Geology of the Woodcutters Lead-Zinc-Silver Mine

Ormsby W R, ; Nicholson P M,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 0
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
Woodcutters is a polymetallic vein-style deposit hosted by sediments of the Palacoproterozoic Whites Formation which forms part of the sedimentary sequence in the central Pine Creek Geosyncline. Past production and identified resources total over eight million tonnes at 5.5 per cent lead, 12.1 per cent zinc and 110 gA silver. The local geology is influenced by Archaean basement highs; the Rum Jungle and Waterhouse Complexes. Unconformably overlying basement are interbedded clastic and crystalline carbonate units (Batchelor Group) representing cyclic changes in the depositional environment. These exhibit onlapping features with the underlying rocks. Sediments of the overlying Frances Creek Group suggest a quiet period during subsidence and subsequent increase in water depth (the carbonaceous dolomitic shales and the interbedded dololutites of the Whites Formation) followed by proximal uplift resulting in the inundation of turbiditic flows (Acacia Gap Quartzite). All of the Palaeoproterozoic rocks show evidence of being affected by penecontemporaneous, basement circling faults with steep dips. The stress regime during the deposition of the Frances Creek Group was characterised by alternating episodes of thrusting and transpression. Periods of relaxation also occurred. The compression resulted in major NS strike-slip (transpressional) faulting, en-echelon NNE trending folds and NW-SE tensional cross faults. Thrusting produced N-S striking, steep dipping reverse faults and a possible decollement immediately above the Batchelor Group. Relaxation is evidenced by the intrusion of lamprophyre dykes and dolerite sills (Zamu Dolerite). Mineralisation at Woodcutters occurred in faults within the Whites Formation, probably synchronous with deformation and the deposition of the upper parts of the Frances Creek Group. Greenschist facies metamorphism occurred as the rocks were further buried. Several massive sulphide bodies occur at Woodcutters. A number of features influence the location and shape of these bodies. They are: ò the N-S transpressional faults and in particular associated dilation zones; ò intersection of the N-S transpressional faults with the axial plane of the NNE trending Woodcutters Anticline; ò intersection of the N-S transpressional faults with the NW-SE cross-faults; ò intersection of dololutite rich units with the NS transpressional faults where local replacement takes place; ò thickening of the lithological units in the vicinity of the anticlinal axis; and ò the anticline doubly plunging to both the north and south. The mineralisation exhibits vein-like features as well as epigenetic textures. Its boundaries are sharp, its thickness varies rapidly down dip and along strike, and no alteration halo exists though stringer veins of quartz-carbonate-pyrite ¦ sphalerite/galena occur in close proximity. A number of sulphide mineral assemblages have been recognised, each separated by periods of deformation and partially replacing the earlier assemblages. Vertically continuous zonation patterns highlight the presence of rich galena-sphalerite-silver in zones of maximum dilation and pyrite-arsenopyrite-gold concentrated at the along strike peripheries. The genetic model proposed has the mineralisation occurring whilst the transpressional regime was active. It was deposited from the same fluid that elsewhere in the Geosyncline formed the stratiform deposits higher in the sedimentary pile. Hydrocarbons sourced from the organic-rich Whites
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