Mineralogical constraints on the genesis of an alkalic-type epithermal Au-Te deposit: Tuvatu, Fiji
To study the characteristics and genetic constraints on alkalic-type epithermal Au mineralisation, here we use the example of the Tuvatu Au-Ag deposit in Fiji, with an emphasis on detailed, quantitative mineralogy. Tuvatu mineralisation is hosted in a weakly altered potassic monzonite in parallel sided-veins of K-feldspar, biotite, sericite, calcite, and quartz, with epidote-bearing propylitic or sericite-rich selvages. Petrographic study of core and automated SEM-based mineralogical mapping of thin sections have been utilised to update previous parageneses of the deposit. Automated SEM techniques enable identification of small amounts of obscure minerals that form minuscule grains, which would otherwise be very difficult to identify and measure. As a result, our data show that gold fineness is extremely high, with the mean and median Au content of native-Au and Au-Ag alloy being 96.7% and 100% respectively, yet precious-metal tellurides make up the majority of the Au deportment. Tellurides show evidence of multiple phases and zoning with depth. For the first time at Tuvatu, Pt- and Pd-tellurides have been identified. Tuvatu has a number of features in common with alkalic systems elsewhere, including quartz-poor, carbonate-rich veins and alteration, abundant and varied telluride minerals, high gold grades, and Pt-Pd occurrences. We suggest these characteristics are a result of relatively high temperature (250–300 °C) fluids and immiscible semi-metal melts fluxing into the shallow epithermal environment. High pH fluids lead to quartz-poor alteration, but mildly acidic conditions dominate in areas of high fluid flux, where the lower pH causes precipitation of tellurides with quartz. Boiling of the fluids produces zonation of tellurides with depth but leaves relatively subtle textural evidence compared to boiling in most epithermal systems, in common with other quartz poor, carbonate-rich alkalic epithermal deposits around the world.
Author affiliationCentre for Sustainable Resource Extraction, University of Leicester
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