School of Earth Sciences - Theses

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    Volatile and precious metal geochemistry of the Mount Isa ores and their host rocks
    McGoldrick, Peter John ( 1986)
    Geochemical and petrographic investigations of Pb-Zn-Ag mineralization (12 orebody) and Cu-Co mineralization (1100 orebody) from Mount Isa were undertaken. Over one hundred and twenty carefully selected samples were analyzed for major and minor elements and for some or all of the following volatile metals: Au, Ag, Cd, As, Sb, Se, Bi, Co and Tl. A strong Tl enrichment is observed in (pyritic) unmineralized lateral equivalents of 12 orebody for several kilometers to the north of the mine sequence. The Se and As contents, S/Se ratios and S isotope relationships in the Pb-Zn ores and their host pyritic shales preclude a magmatic or deep-seated hydrothermal S Source. The data suggest that sulfide S in the Urquhart Shales was derived from reduction of a “seawater”/evaporitic/pore water sulfate source. Lateral variations in the thickness of mineralized intervals, the nature of the sulfide-gangue textures in the ores, the pervasive K and Tl enrichment in the host rocks and other chemical features of the Pb-Zn ores indicate that much of the Mount Isa mineralization formed epigenetically within the unconsolidated Urquhart Shales. The Pb-Zn-Ag ores contain very little Au and it is argued that this feature is best explained by the hydrothermal solutions that formed the Pb-Zn ores being cool (<<200°C) and moderately oxidized. The “silica dolomite” (the host to all the Mount Isa Cu mineralization) formed from “normal” Urquhart Shale as a result of intense fault-related hydrothermal activity (Perkins, 1984). The alteration has silicified the shales adjacent to the fault, and dolomite, phyllosilicates and “immobile” elements liberated during the silicification have been re-deposited at higher levels up-dip in the silica dolomite bodies. For the most part primary sulfide textures have not been preserved. It is argued that the distribution of several elements (notably Co, Bi, As, Fe and S) in 1100 orebody and its location down-dip from a strongly pyritic section of Urquhart shale are good evidence that stratiform Co (and Cu) mineralization was present in pyritic Urquhart Shales prior to formation of the silica dolomite. Chemical and isotopic evidence suggest that the Cu mineralization had a similar S-source and formed from similar solutions to the Pb-Zn-Ag ores. A new co-genetic model for the Mount Isa Cu and Pb-Zn-Ag deposits in which the mineralization formed from cool oxidized solutions in the upper few meters of the unconsolidated Urquhart Shales is presented. The metal-bearing solutions were expelled from their source rocks (oxidized clastic sediments lower in the Moust Isa Group) during the course of normal basin compaction and dewatering. Base metal sulfides were fixed by sulfate reduction processes occurring in the diagenetic environment of the Urquhart Shales. Weathered mafic volcanic detritus may have been and important component of the source.
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    The geology, petrology and geochemistry of the Otway formation volcanogenic sediments
    Duddy, Ian Ross ( 1983)
    The geology, petrology and geochemistry of the Early Cretaceous Otway Formation have been investigated in detail and used to determ ine the nature of the source rocks and to develop a model for the diagenetic and low-grade metamorphic readjustments. The fluviatile Otway Formation was deposited in continental rift grabens that stretched some 1000 km along the southern coast of Australia during the Early Cretaceous. The main areas of deposition in the Otway, Gippsland and Bass Basins contain an estimated 100,000 cubic kilometres of detritus. The major part of this detritus was derived from pyroclastic material which has been shown by the fission track dating studies to have been derived from contemporaneous volcanism. The pile of volcanogenic material comprising the Otway Formation is at least 3 to 4 km thick in the main basins. The sediments are entirely non-marine and were deposited by large scale multichannel streams cut in extensive floodplains. The streams deposited thick multistorey channel sandstones in sheet-like bodies and a diverse spectrum of overbank mudstones and fine-grained sandstones. The complex channel sandstones fine upwards but have numerous erosional breaks indicating repeated flood cycles. Whereas the channel deposits have internal features consistent with braided stream channels the overall system has a large proportion of floodplain which was been considered in the past to have been a feature of meandering channels. The oversupply of volcanogenic detritus is considered to have been responsible for the development of the multiple channel depositional system in a climate of high seasonal rainfall. Whole rock chemical analyses of all lithologies in the sedimentary suite, recalculated i.nto a set of normative minerals, have proved useful in the distinction and description of sedimentary rocks in general. P20S was found to be useful for the identification of Early Cretaceous soil forming processes. The study of the chemical composition of detrital minerals has demonstrated the usefulness of this approach in the identification of the nature of the source magmas of volcanogenic sediments. For the Otway Formation, analyses of clinopyroxenes, amphiboles, feldspars and sphene in particular, have shown that high potassium dacitic to shoshonitic volcanism dominated during Early Cretaceous rifting. The new data on the geology and mineralogical and chemical features of the Otway Formation have application to the study of diagenesis and low-grade metamorphism in volcanogenic sediments in general. (From Abstract)