This report describes geochemical and geological studies which were conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Servicos Geologicos de Portugal (SPG) in the Portuguese pyrite belt (PPB) in southern Portugal. The studies included rare earth element (REE) distributions and geological and geochemical controls on the distribution of gold. Rare earth element distributions were determined in representative samples of the volcanic rocks from five west-trending sub-belts of the PPB in order to test the usefulness of REE as a tool for the correlation of volcanic events, and to determine their mobility and application as hydrothermal tracers. REE distributions in felsic volcanic rocks show increases in the relative abundances of heavy REE and a decrease in La/Yb ratios from north to south in the Portuguese pyrite belt. Anomalous amounts of gold are distributed in and near massive and disseminated sulfide deposits in the PPB. Gold is closely associated with copper in the middle and lower parts of the deposits. Weakly anomalous concentrations of gold were noted in exhalative sedimentary rocks that are stratigraphically above massive sulfide deposits in a distal manganiferous facies, whereas anomalously low concentrations were detected in the barite-rich, proximal-facies exhalites. Altered and pyritic felsic volcanic rocks locally contain highly anomalous concentrations of gold, suggesting that disseminated sulfide deposits and the non-ore parts of massive sulfide deposits should be evaluated for their gold potential.
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USGS Numbered Series
Geochemical studies of rare earth elements in the Portuguese pyrite belt, and geologic and geochemical controls on gold distribution