Host-rock geochemistry and massive volcanogenic sulphide ores

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 804, 1979

J. S. FOX, Geology Division, Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Major-element data for unaltered, unmineralized felsic host rocks from a number of stratigraphically simple, massive volcanogenic Zn-Cu(-Pb) sulphide deposits of low metamor-phic grade have been compiled. The petrochemical affinities of these host rocks have been determined (by standard means and by discriminant analysis) and compared. This comparison indicates that volcanogenic deposits in felsic terrains are not restricted to the classical calc-alkaline rock association as previously thought, but can actually be hosted by rocks showing a range of iron content.There is a positive correlation between differentiation trend and ore tenor. Zn-Cu ores usually have iron-rich felsic hosts (most Canadian Shield deposits); Pb-Zn-Cu ores have iron-poor felsic hosts (Japanese, Iberian and Tasmanian deposits). This parallels the antipathetic relationship between iron content and background lead levels evident in young, unmineralized, island arcs as well as in many older belts. Correlations between differentiation trend on one hand and massive ore mineralogy and the relative proportions of various rock types (including rhyolite, quartz-porphyry and coarse pyroclastic rocks) on the other are also evident.It is concluded that the recognition of a calc-alkaline differentiation trend cannot be used as a prospecting guide, as has previously been proposed. However, in view of the above correlations, the recognition of a given trend may aid in the formulation of an effective exploration philosophy.
Keywords: Exploration techniques, Mineral exploration, Geochemistry, Host rocks, Sulphide deposits, Volcanogenic sulphides, Base metals, Calc-alkaline rocks, Tholeiitic rocks, Discriminant analysis, Petrochemistry, Ore grade, Rhyelites, Quartz-porphyries, Pyroclastics.