Orogeny and Hydrothermal Karst: Stratabound Pb–Zn Sulphide Deposition at Pine Point, Northern Canada

  • Paul L. BroughtonEmail author
Part of the Cave and Karst Systems of the World book series (CAKASYWO)


A large lead–zinc ore body formed along the Presqu’ile barrier reef at the northern margin of the Prairie Evaporite (Middle Devonian) salt basin in northern Canada. An early stage of finely crystalline dolomitization of the Pine Point Formation limestone was patchy. A second dolomitization stage resulted in the coarsely crystalline massive Presqu’ile dolomite. Deep-seated hydrothermal brines flowed eastward up-structure, across a segment of the McDonald basement fault, into the eastern end of the barrier reef complex along earlier multi-km-long karst dissolution trends. These metalliferous hydrothermal brines resulted in 30–50-km-long and 2–3-km-wide Mississippi Valley-type Pb–Zn sulphide trends along the base of the Presqu’ile dolomite. The sulphide mineralization was distributed as tabular stratabound ore pods, 100–250 m-long and 10–20 m-thick, and ovoid vertical bodies up to 60 m, cross-cutting the Presqu’ile dolomite and extending into the overlying beds. Mineralizing thermal fluids directed along earlier karstic dissolution trends filled available porosity, including sediment filled cave sites, or hydrothermal brines extensively expanded the pre-existing dissolution trends by solution-replacement of the surrounding host dolomite, resulting in sulphide deposition where chemical conditions were favourable. Spatiotemporal relationships are uncertain between karstification stages, depths of burial, and distribution of these sulphide ore pods. Early stage near-surface karstification may have occurred as early as Devonian, followed by deeper burial during the late Carboniferous Antler Orogeny. Alternatively, the near-surface karstification was Antler, followed by hydrothermal karstification with deep burial during Middle Jurassic-Early Cretaceous (Columbian) to Late Cretaceous (Laramide) tectonism.


Pine Point Northern Canada Mississippi Valley-type Pb–Zn sulphide mineralization Presqu'ile reef Hydrothermal karstification 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CalgaryCanada

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