The Application of Rare Earth Element Analyses in the Exploration for Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide Type Deposits

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1997

Rare earth element (REE) data are reported for ores, sulfide-bearing rocks and host rocks from massive sulfide deposits and barren sulfide facies iron formations in Proterozoic volcanic rocks of the Flin Flon-Snow Lake area, Manitoba. Some of the rare earth elements (e.g., Eu), are selectively leached in zones of intense alteration and redeposited together with the sulfides and silicates in the uppermost parts of the alteration zones and at the rock-water interface. Chondrite normalized REE profiles of layered sulfide ores and exhalites proximal to the deposits typically have positive europium anomalies and are enriched in light REE. In contrast, barren sulfide facies iron formations exhibit negative or ‘normal’ Eu profiles. REE data are useful to explorationists in determining the presence of ‘off-hole’ metal-bearing sulfide zones, in distinguishing metal-poor sulfidic layers related to ‘economic’ hydrothermal activity from barren sulfide facies iron formation and in some instances as a means of establishing ‘ore-equivalent’ strata.
Keywords: Rare earth element, REE, Ores, Massive sulfide deposits, Iron formation, Manitoba, Exploration, Ore equivalent strata