Base-Metal Deposits of the Bathurst-Newcastle District: Characteristics and Depositional Models

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1992

STEVEN R. McCUTCHEON, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy, Geological Surveys Branch, New Brunswick, Canada

The Bathurst-Newcastle district, a subcircular area approximately 50 km in diameter, contains 37 massive-sulfide Zn-Pb-Cu deposits that have defined tonnages, and has 58 additional significant occurrences. The largest deposit is Brunswick No. 12, with total reserves (including past production) of 148 million tonnes grading about 12.5% combined Pb-Zn. The deposits/ occurrences are spatially associated with a felsic volcanic pile that contains a significant sedimentary component. In the vicinity of the Brunswick deposits the pile is divisible into lower and upper sequences. The lower is characterized by megacrystic rhyolite (QFAS) and coarse- to fine-grained quartz (± feldspar) wackes and/or tuffites (QAS); the upper sequence is characterized by aphyric to sparsely porphyritic rhyolites (HWR), micro-breccias, and acid hyaloclastites with interbedded dark gray sedimentary rocks. A greenish gray to dark gray siltstone (GGS) separates the two sequences and hosts the sulfide deposits. Lithogeochemistry of least altered samples shows that the QFAS and HWR have an igneous character, whereas the QAS and GGS have a sedimentary signature. The two types can be distinguished on the basis of total alkalies (Na2O + K2O) versus SiO2/Al2O3, and TiO2 versus Fe/(Fe + Mg). Some trace elements, such as Sr and Y, also help differentiate the two types. The QFAS differs from HWR by having higher La/Yb ratios but lower Zr and Th. The Bathurst deposits do not show a close spatial association with rhyolites but rather are stratiform bodies (lacking clastic textures) within fine-grained sedimentary rocks. The scarcity of barite and other sulfates indicates that there was little mixing between the metal-bearing fluids and cold seawater. High Fe/(Fe + Mg) ratios in chlorites also indicate the fluids did not contain a significant seawater component. These features and the large size of many deposits suggest that the deposits formed from metal-rich pore waters that were released catastrophically from an acquifer in the footwall stratigraphy.