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Evolution of the subseafloor hydrothermal system associated with the Ming VMS deposit, Newfoundland Appalachians, and its controls on base and precious metal distribution

  • Jean-Luc PiloteEmail author
  • Stephen J. Piercey
  • Patrick Mercier-Langevin
Article
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Abstract

The ~ 487 Ma Ming volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit consists of four subparallel, elongated, semi-massive to massive sulfides lenses (the 1807, 1806, Ming North, and Ming South zones) hosted in rhyodacite of the Rambler Rhyolite formation, Newfoundland Appalachians. A discordant Cu-rich Lower Footwall zone underlies the semi-massive to massive sulfide lenses. Alteration associated with mineralization can be divided into nine facies that formed in three paragenetic stages: (1) weak quartz–calcite ± spessartine, quartz–sericite, and quartz–sericite–chlorite alteration (stage 1); (2) quartz–chlorite, quartz–chlorite–sulfide, and quartz–chlorite–sericite assemblages (stage 2); and (3) quartz–sericite–sulfide and localized Mn-rich carbonate assemblages (stage 3). A thin syngenetic silica-rich layer immediately overlies part of the VMS deposit and likely formed during the early stages. The volcanic architecture and synvolcanic faults controlled the lateral distribution of extrusive rocks and hydrothermal alteration. Precipitation of the high temperature, discordant to semi-conformable Cu-rich chloritic assemblages (stockwork), was laterally restricted to one of these synvolcanic faults and the transition from coherent- to volcaniclastic-dominated lithofacies. Lower temperature, sericitic assemblages (stages 1 and 3) are controlled by the distribution of volcaniclastic rocks and generally form the immediate footwall to the semi-massive to massive sulfide lenses. Lithogeochemical mass balance calculations illustrate the alteration minerals and mineralization: chlorite-rich assemblages—gains in SiO2, Fe2O3t, MgO, Cr, Ni, and Cu and losses in Na2O, MnO, and CaO and sericite-rich assemblages—gains in K2O, Zn, and Ag and losses in MnO, MgO, CaO, Na2O, and Y. Calcium- and magnesium-rich alteration assemblages are restricted to the northwest fringe of the deposit, distal to the main chloritic and sericitic alteration, and have elemental gains in P2O5, Y, and losses in K2O. The late stage 3 quartz–sericite–sulfide assemblage overprints most assemblages, hosts sphalerite–galena–sulfosalt–Ag–Au-rich veins, and is spatially associated with coherent volcanic rocks. The less permeable nature of these rocks is interpreted to have acted as a physical barrier for ascending metal-rich hydrothermal fluids. Results from the detailed reconstruction of the hydrothermal architecture and paragenetic evolution of the Ming deposit suggest that precious metals were introduced during the waning stage of the hydrothermal system, associated with decreases in temperature and pH of the hydrothermal fluids.

Keywords

Appalachians Baie Verte VMS alteration Mineralogy Mineral chemistry Hyperspectral reflectance spectrometry Precious metal enrichment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Rambler Metals and Mining Ltd. and geologists Larry Pilgrim and Paul Legrow for providing access to the underground workings, drill core, data, and samples and Pam King, Lakmali Hewa, and Wanda Aylward of CREAIT at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) for their technical support and guidance during the multiple stages of sample preparation and geochemical and EPMA analyses. We appreciate the technical support from and insightful discussions with J. Cloutier (CODES/University of Tasmania) and S.M. Brueckner (Laurentian University). This manuscript was significantly improved through the reviews of A. Galley, K. Kelley, and an anonymous reviewer and the constructive comments of the editor-in chief, G. Beaudoin.

Funding information

This research was funded by grants to S.J. Piercey, including an NSERC Discovery Grant, and the NSERC-Altius Industrial Research Chair in Mineral Deposits funded by NSERC, Altius Minerals Inc., and the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador. This study was also funded in part by the Geological Survey of Canada’s Targeted Geoscience Initiative Program.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada
  2. 2.Geological Survey of CanadaQuébecCanada

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