Gold Mineralization in Banded Iron Formation in the Amalia Greenstone Belt, South Africa: A Mineralogical and Sulfur Isotope Study

Kofi Adomako-Ansah, Toshio Mizuta, Napoleon Q. Hammond, Daizo Ishiyama, Takeyuki Ogata, Hitoshi Chiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Blue Dot gold deposit, located in the Archean Amalia greenstone belt of South Africa, is hosted in an oxide (± carbonate) facies banded iron formation (BIF). It consists of three stratabound orebodies; Goudplaats, Abelskop, and Bothmasrust. The orebodies are flanked by quartz-chlorite-ferroan dolomite-albite schist in the hanging wall and mafic (volcanic) schists in the footwall. Alteration minerals associated with the main hydrothermal stage in the BIF are dominated by quartz, ankerite-dolomite series, siderite, chlorite, muscovite, sericite, hematite, pyrite, and minor amounts of chalcopyrite and arsenopyrite. This study investigates the characteristics of gold mineralization in the Amalia BIF based on ore textures, mineral-chemical data and sulfur isotope analysis. Gold mineralization of the Blue Dot deposit is associated with quartz-carbonate veins that crosscut the BIF layering. In contrast to previous works, petrographic evidence suggests that the gold mineralization is not solely attributed to replacement reactions between ore fluid and the magnetite or hematite in the host BIF because coarse hydrothermal pyrite grains do not show mutual replacement textures of the oxide minerals. Rather, the parallel-bedded and generally chert-hosted pyrites are in sharp contact with re-crystallized euhedral to subhedral magnetite ± hematite grains, and the nature of their coexistence suggests that pyrite (and gold) precipitation was contemporaneous with magnetite-hematite re-crystallization. The Fe/(Fe+Mg) ratio of the dolomite-ankerite series and chlorite decreased from veins through mineralized BIF and non-mineralized BIF, in contrast to most Archean BIF-hosted gold deposits. This is interpreted to be due to the effect of a high sulfur activity and increase in fO2 in a H2S-dominant fluid during progressive fluid-rock interaction. High sulfur activity of the hydrothermal fluid fixed pyrite in the BIF by consuming Fe2+ released into the chert layers and leaving the co-precipitating carbonates and chlorites with less available ferrous iron content. Alternatively, the occurrence of hematite in the alteration assemblage of the host BIF caused a structural limitation in the assignment of Fe3+ in chlorite which favored the incorporation of magnesium (rather than ferric iron) in chlorite under increasing fO2 conditions, and is consistent with deposits hosted in hematite-bearing rocks. The combined effects of reduction in sulfur contents due to sulfide precipitation and increasing fO2 during progressive fluid-rock interactions are likely to be the principal factors to have caused gold deposition. Arsenopyrite-pyrite geothermometry indicated a temperature range of 300-350°C for the associated gold mineralization. The estimated δ34SΣS (= +1.8 to +2.5‰) and low base metal contents of the sulfide ore mineralogy are consistent with sulfides that have been sourced from magma or derived by the dissolution of magmatic sulfides from volcanic rocks during fluid migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-140
Number of pages22
JournalResource Geology
Volume63
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Amalia Greenstone Belt
  • Arsenopyrite
  • Mesothermal gold
  • Oxide BIF
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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