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Syngenetic gold in western Victoria: occurrence, age and dimensions

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Wood, BL and Large, RR (2007) Syngenetic gold in western Victoria: occurrence, age and dimensions. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 54 (5). pp. 711-732. ISSN 0812-0099

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Abstract

In western Victoria, a widespread stratiform style of gold enrichment in Palaeozoic black mudstone and chert-clearly different from the classic mesothermal quartz vein deposits of the Victorian goldfields - has been confirmed by whole-rock geochemistry and Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICPMS). This enrichment pre-dates compaction, deformation and low-grade metamorphism of the sedimentary host-rocks, and therefore possibly developed diagenetically during slow deposition of the thin carbonaceous black mudstone beds and the thinner layers of chert. These paired strata have been documented at many locations in three regional outcrop areas of chevronfolded
Cambrian and Lower Ordovician metasediments in the Stawell and Bendigo Zones, where they are interbedded with quartz-rich turbidites. The layers were named 'indicators' by the early miners, who found locally rich nuggety gold deposits at intersections between these layers and mesothermal quartz
veins. Gold is present in euhedral pyrite crystals in both black shale and chert. LA-ICPMS analysis of individual pyrite crystals in the indicator beds shows that pyrite is enriched in Au, As, Sb, Se, Te and Bi.
The Au content of pyrite varies from 0.03 to 2.69 ppm with a mean of 0.58 ppm and shows a positive correlation with As, which varies from 1000 to 6000 ppm. Many pyrite crystals show enrichment of gold in their cores and depletion in their rims, confirming the likely syngenetic or syndiagenetic accumulation of gold during pyrite formation in the sediments. Prior to regional metamorphism, folding and faulting, the many indicator strata in the outcrop areas were parts of an extensive marine sequence of Late Cambrian and Early Ordovician age. The former primary source of this mineralisation is considered to have been one or more contemporaneously exhalative submarine hydrothermal systems. Thus, the older Palaeozoic sediments of the western Lachlan Fold Belt were significantly enriched in syngenetic gold in the Early Palaeozoic, at least 40 million years before emplacement of the quartz -gold vein deposits of the goldfields.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: SEDEX gold, Victorian Goldfield, Bendigo, Ballarat, LA-ICPMS, Orogenic gold, pyrite chemistry, indicator beds
Journal or Publication Title: Australian Journal of Earth Sciences
Page Range: pp. 711-732
ISSN: 0812-0099
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1080/08120090701305244
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:18
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