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TitreThe gold content of volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits
AuteurMercier-Langevin, P; Hannington, M D; Dubé, B; Bécu, V
SourceMineralium Deposita vol. 46, 2011 p. 509-539,
Séries alt.Secteur des sciences de la Terre, Contribution externe 20090023
Documentpublication en série
Mediapapier; en ligne; numérique
Sujetsgisements minéraux; gîtes minéralogiques; minéralisation; or; sulfures; gîtes sulfureux; gîtes volcanogènes; géologie économique
Illustrationsplots; graphs; histograms; tables
ProgrammeAbitibi IGC-3, Initiative géoscientifique ciblée (IGC-3), 2005-2010
ProgrammeÉtude des gîtes d'or, Initiative géoscientifique ciblée (IGC-4)
Résumé(disponible en anglais seulement)
Volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits contain variable amounts of gold, both in terms of average grade and total gold content, with some VMS deposits hosting world-class gold mines with more than 100 t Au. Previous studies have identified gold-rich VMS as having an average gold grade, expressed in g/t, exceeding the total abundance of base metals, expressed in wt.%. However, statistically meaningful criteria for the identification of truly anomalous deposits have not been established. This paper presents a more extensive analysis of gold grades and tonnages of 513 VMS deposits worldwide, revealing a number of important features in the distribution of the data. A large proportion of deposits are characterized by a relatively low gold grade (<2 g/t), with a gradual decrease in frequency towards maximum gold grades, defining a log-normal distribution. In the analysis presented in this paper, the geometric mean and geometric standard deviation appear to be the simplest metric for identifying subclasses of VMS deposits based on gold grade, especially when comparing deposits within individual belts and districts. The geometric mean gold grade of 513 VMS deposits worldwide is 0.76 g/t; the geometric standard deviation is +2.70 g/t Au. In this analysis, deposits with more than 3.46 g/t Au (geometric mean plus one geometric standard deviation) are considered auriferous. The geometric mean gold content is 4.7 t Au, with a geometric standard deviation of +26.3 t Au. Deposits containing 31 t Au or more (geometric mean plus one geometric standard deviation) are also considered to be anomalous in terms of gold content, irrespective of the gold grade. Deposits with more than 3.46 g/t Au and 31 t Au are considered gold-rich VMS. A large proportion of the total gold hosted in VMS worldwide is found in a relatively small number of such deposits. The identification of these truly anomalous systems helps shed light on the geological parameters that control unusual enrichment of gold in VMS. At the district scale, the gold-rich deposits occupy a stratigraphic position and volcanic setting that commonly differs from other deposits of the district possibly due to a step change in the geodynamic and magmatic evolution of local volcanic complexes. The gold-rich VMS are commonly associated with transitional to calc-alkaline intermediate to felsic volcanic rocks, which may reflect a particularly fertile geodynamic setting and/or timing (e.g., early arc rifting or rifting front). At the deposit scale, uncommon alteration assemblages (e.g., advanced argillic, aluminous, strongly siliceous, or potassium feldspar alteration) and trace element signatures may be recognized (e.g., Au-Ag-As-Sb ± Bi-Hg-Te), suggesting a direct magmatic input in some systems.