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TitleTrace element distribution in sulphide assemblages of the Levack-Morrison ore system, Sudbury, Ontario: looking for chemical fingerprints of mineralization processes
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorAdibpour, M; Jugo, P J; Ames, D EORCID logo
SourceTargeted Geoscience Initiative 4: Canadian nickel-copper-platinum group elements-chromium ore systems -- fertility, pathfinders, new and revised models; by Ames, D EORCID logo (ed.); Houlé, M G (ed.); Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 7856, 2015 p. 257-268, Open Access logo Open Access
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
Documentopen file
Mediaon-line; digital
RelatedThis publication is contained in Targeted Geoscience Initiative 4: Canadian nickel-copper-platinum group elements-chromium ore systems -- fertility, pathfinders, new and revised models
File formatpdf
Lat/Long WENS -82.0000 -80.0000 47.0000 46.0000
Subjectsmetallic minerals; igneous and metamorphic petrology; trace element geochemistry; sulphides; mineralization; cobalt; iridium; platinum; metallogeny; Superior Province; Sudbury Igneous Complex
ProgramTargeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI-4) Mafic-Ultramafic Ore Systems
Released2015 06 22; 2023 03 17
AbstractOne challenge in the exploration for Cu-Ni-PGE mineralization in the footwall of the Sudbury Igneous Complex (SIC) is the uncertainty of its origin. The relative proximity of mineralization to the SIC is consistent with models of magmatic fractionation, but the common association of ore in the SIC footwall with amphibole and epidote alteration is consistent with a hydrothermal origin. Although these processes are not mutually exclusive (e.g. ores of magmatic origin could have been later remobilized by hydrothermal fluids), better constraints on which processes operated would greatly assist exploration. This project is a pilot study to assess whether chemical fingerprints can be established for four distinct mineralization types in the Levack-Morrison ore system: (a) contact; (b) a transition zone between contact and footwall ore; (c) sharpwalled veins; and (d) disseminated, S-poor, PGE-rich ores.
Sulphide assemblages consisting primarily of pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, and pentlandite were characterized in detail (petrography, SEM, EPMA, LA-ICP-MS). The results indicate that (a) Se content increases with depth; and (b) some trace elements (e.g. Cd vs. Se in chalcopyrite, Co vs. Se in pentlandite and pyrrhotite) can discriminate among different ore types. Calculated partition coefficients (± 2?) for Se in chalcopyrite and pentlandite (1.2 ± 0.1 for contact and transition ores, 0.5 ± 0.2 for sharp-walled veins) are significantly different, which is consistent with different mineralization processes for those ore types. In addition to trace element content calculation in major sulphides, element distribution maps were created from LA-ICP-MS spectra of sulphide assemblages. Some contact-style samples contained abundant euhedral pyrite but pyrite was also present in samples of other ore types. The maps showed complex trace element zonation (e.g. Se, Co, and As) in pyrite in contact ore, as well as some PGE minerals (notably Ir and Os). In contrast, no PGEs were detected in any of the other sulphides or any compositional zoning. Because Ir has very low solubility under most hydrothermal conditions, Co-rich, Ir-bearing pyrite was interpreted to have formed from the cooling of a sulphur-rich sulphide liquid. Such pyrite (when present) could be used as an indicator of a magmatic signature.
To further refine these results, future work would need to focus on three areas: (1) analyses of additional samples from the Morrison-Levack ore system to validate the discrimination diagrams for different ore types; (2) similar work would need to be undertaken elsewhere in the Sudbury mining district, to establish if the proposed discrimination plots are applicable basin-wide; (3) better constraints would need to be established for the origin of the Co-rich, PGE-bearing pyrite to enable it to be used as a marker of ore type.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
The Targeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI-4) is a collaborative federal geoscience program that provides industry with the next generation of geoscience knowledge and innovative techniques to better detect buried mineral deposits, thereby reducing some of the risks of exploration. This volume summarizes 22 research activities completed under the TGI-4 Ni-Cu-PGE-Cr ore systems project that focused on revised and new geologic models for Ni-Cu-PGE, PGE-Cu and Cr deposits, innovative techniques for determining potential fertility of intrusion (Ni-Cu-PGE), and defining pathfinders for Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization.

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