Late Precambrian-Early Paleozoic volcanic regimes and associated massive sulphide deposits in the northeastern mainland Appalachians

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 83, No. 938, 1990

L.R. Fyffe, C.R. van Staal*, and J.A. Winchester

The geochemical characteristics of Early Paleozoic volcanic rocks are used to establish the following tectono-volcanic regimes in the northeastern mainland Appalachians: foreland continental rift vol-canics; fore-arc ophiolites; island-arc volcanics; back-arc ophiolites; and back-arc ensialic volcanics. A Late Precambrian calc-alkaline magmatic arc bounds the Early Paleozoic volcanics to the southeast. The Precambrian calc-alkaline volcanics of the Caledonian Highlands, primitive Cambro-Ordovician oceanic-arc volcanics of the Eastern Townships, and within-plate Ordovician volcanics of the Miramichi Highlands can be related to a progressive change in mode of subduct ion from compressional Andean-type in the Late Pro-terozoic to extensional Western Pacific-type in the Early Paleozoic. The development of marginal oceanic basins in the Paleozoic created a more favourable environment for volcanogenic sulphide deposition, particularly in back-arc areas. The influence of tectonic setting is reflected in the distribution, size and metal ratios of the massive sulphide deposits associated with the volcanic rocks; deposits within intra-oceanic arcs in the Eastern Townships of Quebec average two million tonnes grading 2.2% Cu, 4.0% Zn, and 0.6% Pb, whereas those within a back-arc, ensialic rift near Bat hurst, New Brunswick, average nine million tonnes grading 0.6% Cu, 5.4% Zn, and 2.2% Pb.
Mots Clés: Geochemistry, Volcanic geochemistry, Sulphide deposits.