Geochemistry and Genesis of the Murray Brook Precious Metal Gossan Deposit, Bathurst Mining Camp, New Brunswic

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1995

D.R. Boyle Geological Survey of Canada 601 Booth St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0E

The Murray Brook precious metal (Au, Ag) gossan deposit is one of nine supergene mineral deposits that have developed over polymetallic massive sulfide deposits in the Bathurst Camp of New Brunswick. Reserves consist of 1.9 Mt of gossan containing 1.53 g/t Au and 65.9 g/t Ag. The supergene zone at Murray Brook consists of six distinct units: a) altered massive sulfide, b) pyrite-quartz sand, c) massive sulfide gossan, d) disseminated sulfide gossan, e) ferruginized wallrock, and f) leached bedrock. The massive sulfide gossan constitutes the main body of economic mineralization and consists of goethite, primary quartz, secondary amorphous silica, K-Fe-Pb-AsSb-Ag hydrated sulfate and oxide minerals (beudantite, plumbojarosite, jarosite, bindheimite, scorodite), trace cinnabar, and cassiterite of primary origin. The order of stability of sulfide minerals during oxidation was pyrite,arsenopyrite, galena, Bi-Sb sulfosalts chalcopyrite, tetrahedrite group, sphalerite. Two mass balance techniques (isovolumetric and conservative element) indicate elemental depletion in gossan relative to primary ore in the order: S>Cd=Zn>Cu=Mn>Na=Ca>Fe=Al=V> Mg= K=Se=Hg>Pb>Ti>Ag>Mo=P>Ba; and enrichment in the order Au>As>Sb>Si>Bi. Tin, as cassiterite, is conservative. Mineralogic and paleomagnetic data suggest that the gossan deposit formed under a warm temperate climate throughout the Pliocene. The rate of oxidation and the compositional nature of the ore was significantly influenced by: a) the position of the primary sulfide zone in a downward moving hydrological system, b) primary sulfide composition and zonation that promoted the development of a strong electrochemical oxidation system, and c) pronounced intercalation of carbonate and sphalerite mineralization in sulfide zones, which promoted rapid development of secondary porosity, permeability and downward flow of oxygenated groundwater. During progressive oxidation and physico-chemical erosion of the gossan zone, Au was transported downward in groundwaters, probably as a Au o colloid complex, to be concentrated in the lower horizons of the gossan profile. The precipitation of Au was greatly increased in the pyrite/arsenopyrite zones. Gold concentration was multi-cyclic with continual dissolution and nucleation of the metal until final concentration in the void structures of the gossan. Leaching experiments and microprobe analyses indicate that Au is present in the gossan as submicron composite sols of Au-Ag-silica.
Keywords: Geochemistry, Genesis, Murray Brook, Precious metal deposit, Gossan deposit, Mineralogy, Metallurgy, Gold concentration