Sulfur isotopes, trace element, and textural analyses of pyrite, arsenopyrite and base metal sulfides associated with gold mineralization in the Pataz-Parcoy district, Peru: implication for paragenesis, fluid source, and gold deposition mechanisms

  • F. VouteEmail author
  • S. G. Hagemann
  • N. J. Evans
  • C. Villanes


In the Pataz-Parcoy district, current mining activity is focused on the mesothermal quartz-carbonate-sulfide veins hosted by the Pataz batholith. Total gold production yielded approximately 8 Moz with grades in the mined ore shoots varying between 7 and 15 g/t Au, and locally reaching up to 120 g/t Au. High-grade ore shoots are extraordinarily enriched in sulfides, representing 10 to 20 modal vol% of the vein. Ore mineralogy is characterized by a complex paragenesis of pyrite, arsenopyrite, galena, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, and gold. Gold occurs mostly as electrum in equilibrium with base metals sulfides filling fractures of pyrite and arsenopyrite. A novel combination of secondary ion mass spectrometry, laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and electron probe microanalysis is used to track the compositional evolution of ore fluid(s) and to investigate the mineralization processes occurring in the Pataz-Parcoy district. Contrasting with the classical two-stage ore sequence previously proposed for the Pataz-Parcoy district, we suggest a revised paragenetic sequence, i.e., (1) deposition of pyrite core (PyI) with homogeneously distributed base metal sulfide inclusions, (2) progressive replacement of PyI by arsenian pyrite (PyII) and arsenopyrite associated with invisible gold deposition, and (3) deposition of sphalerite – galena ± chalcopyrite − electrum in fractured pyrite and arsenopyrite. We propose two models for the formation of base metal sulfide inclusions in PyI, i.e., (1) co-precipitation of base metal sulfide with PyI and later redistribution in cracks driven by partial As replacement of PyI to PyII and arsenopyrite and (2) preferential replacement of the PyI along crystallographic planes by percolation of the fluid responsible for base metal sulfide deposition in fractured pyrite and arsenopyrite.


Paragenetic sequence Trace element Arsenopyrite Arsenian pyrite Invisible gold Sulfur isotopes 



The authors acknowledge the continuous support of Poderosa LTd for applied scientific investigations on the Pataz-Parcoy orogenic gold system, particularly Fausto Cueva Castillo (chief geologist) and Carlos Oré Sánchez, as well as the exploration geologist team from both Paraiso and Santa Maria. The scientific and technical assistance of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterization and Analysis, The University of Western Australia, a facility funded by the University, State and Commonwealth Governments, was appreciated. GeoHistory Facility instruments were funded via an Australian Geophysical Observing System grant provided to AuScope Pty Ltd. by the AQ44 Australian Education Investment Fund program. Drs Walter Witt, Daniel Wiemer, and Denis Fougerouse are thanked for critically reading of an earlier version of the manuscript. We are most grateful to the two reviewers, Antoine de Haller and Artur Deditius, whose insight and expertise helped us to improve this manuscript.

Supplementary material

126_2018_857_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (59.4 mb)
ESM 1 Sample FVSM044 selected for sulfur isotope analyses. a) Photograph from underground stope of sulfide-rich Samy vein (Santa Maria, level 2670) hosted in diorite. b) Photograph of laminated vein specimen with pyrite progressively replaced by arsenian pyrite and arsenopyrite. c) Optical reflect light photomicrograph compared with (d) backscattered SEM images with location of selected in-situ analyses (PDF 60852 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (57.2 mb)
ESM 2 Sample FVSM041selected for sulfur isotope analyses. a) Photograph from underground stope of sulfide-rich Samy vein (Santa Maria, level 2670) hosted in diorite. b) Photograph of massive sulfide vein hand specimen dominated by pyrite and quartz-calcite and minor chalcopyrite. c) Optical reflect light photomicrograph compared with (d) backscattered SEM images with location of selected in-situ analyses (PDF 58560 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (449 kb)
ESM 3 EPMA analysis of major and minor elements in arsenopyrite. (PDF 449 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
ESM 4 EPMA analysis of major and minor elements in pyrite. (PDF 1133 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (92 kb)
ESM 5 LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis of arsenopyrite. (PDF 92 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (78 kb)
ESM 6 LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis of chalcopyrite. (PDF 77 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM7_ESM.pdf (85 kb)
ESM 7 LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis of galena. (PDF 85 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM8_ESM.pdf (160 kb)
ESM 8 LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis of pyrite. (PDF 159 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM9_ESM.pdf (88 kb)
ESM 9 LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis of sphalerite (PDF 87 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM10_ESM.pdf (734 kb)
ESM 10 Box and whisker plots of Ag, As, Au, Bi, Cd, Co, Cu, In, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sb, Sn and Zn content inpyrite, arsenopyrite, sphalerite, galena and chalcopyrite from the Pataz-Parcoy district. Open circles are outliers (PDF 734 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM11_ESM.pdf (556 kb)
ESM 11 Representative single-spot LA-ICP-MS spectra for selected elements in pyrite and arsenopyrite. a) time-resolved depth profile showing signals for selected elements in PyI interpreted to be the result of homogeneously distributed base metal sulfide inclusions. b) time-resolved depth profile showing ‘flat’ signals for selected elements interpreted to be hosted in the lattice of PyIIa. c) time-resolved depth profile showing ‘flat’ signals for selected elements interpreted to be hosted in the lattice of PyIIb. d) time-resolved depth profile showing ‘flat’ signals for selected elements interpreted to be hosted in the lattice of arsenopyrite. (PDF 555 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM12_ESM.pdf (214 kb)
ESM 12 (PDF 214 kb)
126_2018_857_MOESM13_ESM.pdf (636 kb)
ESM 13 Whole rock geochemistry of mineralized samples. (PDF 636 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Exploration TargetingUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.John de Laeter Center, TIGeR, Applied GeologyCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Compania Minera Poderosa S.A.Lima-33Peru

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