Use of trend surface analysis to delimit hydrothermal alteration patterns

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 806, 1979

R. A. GANNICOTT and G. A. ARMBRUST University of Ottawa, F. P. AGTERBERG, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa

Trend surface analysis was used to investigate the geochemical dispersion patterns of Si, Al, Fe, Mg, Ca, Na, K, Tiand Rb in the footwall of the Seneca massive sulphide prospect in southwestern British Columbia. Surfaces for various element ratios were also produced to see if the distributions of the elements are related to each other.Trends developed by the elements redistributed during hydrothermal alteration may be difficult to detect for various reasons, such as too few and widely separated sample points, random analytical errors or local variations in rock chemical composition that are not related to regional trends. Trend surface analysis is useful to distinguish regional trends from local fluctuations.The computer program used in this study is capable of calculating surfaces up to the 6th degree polynomial, but provides for automatic termination when the variables in the equation for successive surfaces become effectively collinear. With the relatively small number of data points used (21 samples) in this study, such termination occurred after the quadratic surface.Results show that, at the Seneca prospect, Mg and K increase, and Na and Ca decrease, toward a common centre which corresponds closely with the best drill-core intersections of ore. The centre is interpreted as a volcanic vent and as the source of mineralization. Quadratic surfaces for element ratios show that K/Ca decreases and Fe/Mg increases away from this vent. Thin-section and X-ray diffraction analyses indicate that these variations reflect sericitization of plagioclase and an increase in the Mg content of chlorite near the vent.The mineralization, rock types and element dispersion patterns at the Seneca prospect are similar to those reported for volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits at Bathurst, New Brunswick, and in the Hokuroko district of Japan.
Keywords: Exploration, Geochemical exploration, Trend surface analysis, Hydrothermal alteration, Geostatistics, Computers, Seneca prospect, Massive sulphide deposits.