The geology of the Morro Velho gold deposit in the Archean Rio das Velhas greenstone belt, Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Brazil

Ore Geology Reviews

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DOI: 10.1016/j.oregeorev.2004.12.008



The Morro Velho gold deposit, Quadrilátero Ferrífero region, Minas Gerais, Brazil, is hosted by rocks at the base of the Archean Rio das Velhas greenstone belt. The deposit occurs within a thick carbonaceous phyllite package, containing intercalations of felsic and intermediate volcaniclastic rocks and dolomites. Considering the temporal and spatial association of the deposit with the Rio das Velhas orogeny, and location in close proximity to a major NNW-trending fault zone, it can be classified as an orogenic gold deposit. Hydrothermal activity was characterized by intense enrichment in alteration zones of carbonates, sulfides, chlorite, white mica±biotite, albite and quartz, as described in other Archean lode-type gold ores. Two types of ore occur in the deposit: dark gray quartz veins and sulfide-rich gold orebodies. The sulfide-rich orebodies range from disseminated concentrations of sulfide minerals to massive sulfide bodies. The sulfide assemblage comprises (by volume), on average, 74% pyrrhotite, 17% arsenopyrite, 8% pyrite and 1% chalcopyrite. The orebodies have a long axis parallel to the local stretching lineation, with continuity down the plunge of fold axis for at least 4.8 km. The group of rocks hosting the Morro Velho gold mineralization is locally referred to as lapa seca. These were isoclinally folded and metamorphosed prior to gold mineralization. The lapa seca and the orebodies it hosts are distributed in five main tight folds related to F1 (the best examples are the X, Main and South orebodies, in level 25), which are disrupted by NE- to E-striking shear zones. Textural features indicate that the sulfide mineralization postdated regional peak metamorphism, and that the massive sulfide ore has subsequently been neither metamorphosed nor deformed. Lead isotope ratios indicate a model age of 2.82 ± 0.05 Ga for both sulfide and gold mineralization. The lapa seca are interpreted as the results of a pre-gold alteration process and may be divided into carbonatic, micaceous and quartzose types. The carbonatic lapa seca is subdivided into gray and brown subtypes. Non-mineralized, gray carbonatic lapa seca forms the hanging wall to the orebodies, and is interpreted as the product of extreme CO2 metasomatism during hydrothermal alteration. This dolomitic lapa seca ranges in composition from relatively pure limestone and dolomite to silty limestone and dolomite. The brown carbonatic and micaceous lapa secas are the host rocks to gold. These units are interpreted to correspond to the sheared and hydrothermal products of metamorphosed volcaniclastic and/or volcanic rocks of varying composition from dacitic to andesitic, forming various types of schists and phyllites. The high-grade, massive sulfide orebodies occur at the base of the gray carbonatic lapa seca. Both disseminated mineralization and quartz veins are hosted by micaceous lapa seca. The data are consistent with a model of epigenetic mineralization for the lapa seca, from a hydrothermal fluid derived in part from the Archean basement or older crust material.

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The geology of the Morro Velho gold deposit in the Archean Rio das Velhas greenstone belt, Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Brazil
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Ore Geology Reviews
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