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Discriminating fluid source regions in orogenic gold deposits using B-isotopes

Lambert-Smith, James S. ORCID:, Rocholl, Alexander, Treloar, Peter J. and Lawrence, David M. 2016. Discriminating fluid source regions in orogenic gold deposits using B-isotopes. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 194 , pp. 57-76. 10.1016/j.gca.2016.08.025

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The genesis of orogenic gold deposits is commonly linked to hydrothermal ore fluids derived from metamorphic devolatilization reactions. However, there is considerable debate as to the ultimate source of these fluids and the metals they transport. Tourmaline is a common gangue mineral in orogenic gold deposits. It is stable over a very wide P–T range, demonstrates limited volume diffusion of major and trace elements and is the main host of B in most rock types. We have used texturally resolved B-isotope analysis by secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to identify multiple fluid sources within a single orogenic gold ore district. The Loulo Mining District in Mali, West Africa hosts several large orogenic gold ore bodies with complex fluid chemistry, associated with widespread pre-ore Na- and multi-stage B-metasomatism. The Gara deposit, as well as several smaller satellites, formed through partial mixing between a dilute aqueous-carbonic fluid and a hypersaline brine. Hydrothermal tourmaline occurs as a pre-ore phase in the matrix of tourmalinite units, which host mineralization in several ore bodies. Clasts of these tourmalinites occur in mineralized breccias. Disseminated hydrothermal and vein hosted tourmaline occur in textural sites which suggest growth during and after ore formation. Tourmalines show a large range in δ11B values from −3.5 to 19.8‰, which record a change in fluid source between paragenetic stages of tourmaline growth. Pre-mineralization tourmaline crystals show heavy δ11B values (8–19.8‰) and high X-site occupancy (Na ± Ca; 0.69–1 apfu) suggesting a marine evaporite source for hydrothermal fluids. Syn-mineralization and replacement phases show lighter δ11B values (−3.5 to 15.1‰) and lower X-site occupancy (0.62–0.88 apfu), suggesting a subsequent influx of more dilute fluids derived from devolatilization of marine carbonates and clastic metasediments. The large, overlapping range in isotopic compositions and a skew toward the opposing population in the δ11B data for both tourmaline groups reflects continual tourmaline growth throughout mineralization, which records the process of fluid mixing. A peak in δ11B values at ∼8‰ largely controlled by tourmalines of syn- to post-ore timing represents a mixture of the two isotopically distinct fluids. This paper demonstrates that B-isotopes in tourmaline can be instrumental in interpreting complex and dynamic hydrothermal systems. The importance of B as an integral constituent of orogenic ore forming fluids and as a gangue phase in orogenic gold deposits makes B-isotope analysis a powerful tool for testing the level of source region variability in these fluids, and by extension, that of metal sources.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0016-7037
Funders: Randgold Resources
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 July 2017
Date of Acceptance: 19 August 2016
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 22:04

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