Paleoproterozoic high-sulfidation mineralization in the Tapajós gold province, Amazonian Craton, Brazil: geology, mineralogy, alunite argon age, and stable-isotope constraints

Chemical Geology
By: , and 



The Brazilian Tapajós gold province contains the first evidence of high-sulfidation gold mineralization in the Amazonian Craton. The mineralization appears to be in large nested calderas. The Tapajós–Parima (or Ventuari–Tapajós) geological province consists of a metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary sequence formed during a 2.10 to 1.87 Ga ocean−continent orogeny. The high-sulfidation mineralization with magmatic-hydrothermal alunite is related to hydrothermal breccias hosted in a rhyolitic volcanic ring complex that contains granitic stocks ranging in age from 1.89 to 1.87 Ga. Cone-shaped hydrothermal breccias, which flare upward, contain vuggy silica and have an overlying brecciated cap of massive silica; the deposits are located in the uppermost part of a ring-structure volcanic cone. Drill cores of one of the hydrothermal breccias contain alunite, natroalunite, pyrophyllite, andalusite, quartz, rutile, diaspore, woodhouseite–svanbergite, kaolinite, and pyrite along with inclusions of enargite–luzonite, chalcopyrite, bornite, and covellite. The siliceous core of this alteration center is surrounded by advanced argillic and argillic alteration zones that grade outward into large areas of propylitically altered rocks with sericitic alteration assemblages at depth. Several occurrences and generations of alunite are observed. Alunite is disseminated in the advanced argillic haloes that envelop massive and vuggy silica or that underlie the brecciated silica cap. Coarse-grained alunite also occurs in branching veins and locally is partly replaced by a later generation of fine-grained alunite. Silicified hydrothermal breccias associated with the alunite contain an estimated reserve of 30 tonnes of gold in rock that grades up to 4.5 g t−1 Au. Seven alunite samples gave 40Ar/39Ar ages of 1.869 to 1.846 Ga, with various degrees of apparent minor Ar loss. Stable isotopic data require a magmatic-hydrothermal origin for the alunite, typical for high-sulfidation mineralization. The δ34S values of most samples of alunite range from 14.0‰ to 36.9‰. Sulfur isotopic alunite–pyrite and oxygen isotopic alunite SO4−OH temperatures range from 130 to 420 °C. The δDH2O and δ18OH2O values for alunite-forming hydrothermal fluids suggest a predominance of magmatic water, with a small meteoric contribution. A rare sample of supergene alunite has a δ34S value of 4.1‰ and an 40Ar/39Ar age of 51.3±0.1 Ma. Other than local foliation in the volcanic rocks and recrystallization of alunite near faults, the mineralization and associated alteration appears to have been remarkably undisturbed by later metamorphism and by supergene alteration. The Au mineralization was preserved because of burial by sediments and tuffs in taphrogenic basins that probably developed shortly after mineralization and were probably first exhumed at about 60 Ma. Because high-sulfidation mineralization forms at relatively shallow crustal levels, the discoveries in Tapajós province provide new perspectives for mineral exploration for the Amazonian and perhaps for other Precambrian cratons.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Paleoproterozoic high-sulfidation mineralization in the Tapajós gold province, Amazonian Craton, Brazil: geology, mineralogy, alunite argon age, and stable-isotope constraints
Series title Chemical Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2004.06.035
Volume 215
Issue 1-4 SPEC. ISS.
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Description 31 p.
First page 95
Last page 125
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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