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Hydrothermal fluid flow models of stratiform ore genesis in the McArthur Basin, Northern Territory, Australia

Garven, G, Bull, SW and Large, RR 2001 , 'Hydrothermal fluid flow models of stratiform ore genesis in the McArthur Basin, Northern Territory, Australia' , Geofluids, vol. 1, no. 4 , pp. 289-311 , doi:

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This paper explores the role of basin-scale fluid migration in stratiform Pb-Zn ore formation in the southern McArthur Basin, Australia. Mathematical models are presented for coupled brine migration and heat transport in the basin. The models account for: (i) topographically driven flow (forced convection) during periods when parts of the McArthur Basin were subaerial and elevated above the central Batten Fault Zone; (ii) density-driven flow (free convection) during periods when the basin was mostly submarine; and (iii) transient flows associated with fault rupture during periods of transpression. These hydrologic models help to compare and contrast a variety of hypotheses concerning deep fluid migration and the origin of base metal ores in the McArthur Basin. The numerical results exhibit a strong structural control on fluid flow caused by the north-trending fault systems that characterize the Batten Fault Zone. As a result, fluids descend to depths of a few kilometers along the western side, migrate laterally to the east through the clastic and volcanic aquifers of the upper Tawallah and lowest McArthur Groups, and then ascend along the eastern side of the fault zone. This recharge-discharge pattern dominates all of the hydrogeologic models. The basin-wide flow pattern suggests that Na-Ca-Cl brines acquired base metals in the deepest levels of the basin stratigraphy as the fluids migrated eastwards through the aquifer system. Upward flow was relatively rapid along the Emu Fault Zone, so much so that fluid temperatures likely approached 130 degrees celsius in the muddy sediments near the sea floor due to upward flow and venting at the HYC ('Here's Your Chance'). Transient pulses of flow characterized periods of transpressional stress and subsequent faulting may have punctuated the basin history. Large-scale free convection, however, characterized notably long periods of diagenesis and ore mineralization during the Proterozoic in the McArthur Basin.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Garven, G and Bull, SW and Large, RR
Keywords: HYC, Sedex, fluid flow, convection, ore fluids, aquifier, Emu fault
Journal or Publication Title: Geofluids
ISSN: 1468-8115
DOI / ID Number:
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