Lithological and Geochemical Features of Igneous and Sedimentary Rocks at the Omai Gold Mine, Guyana, South America

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1997

Detailed petrographical and geochemical studies have been carried out on the igneous and sedimentary rocks in the Omai area, part of the Paleoproterozoic Barama-Mazaruni greenstone belt, Guyana. The stratigraphic succession at Omai begins with basalts, associated with mafic ultramafic intrusives and poorly-sorted conglomerates; these are overlain by andesites and quartzfeldspar porphyries, with pelites and tuffaceous sediments at the top. The volcanic-sedimentary succession was intruded by a quartz-monzodioritic stock (Omai stock) and granophyric rhyolite dikes. Several generations of mafic dikes were intruded discontinuously from the Mesoproterozoic to the Permo-Triassic. Volcanic rocks range in composition from subalkaline basalt to high-silica rhyolites, with a gap between 60% to 70% SiO2, which suggests the suite is bimodal. Major, trace, and rare earth element criteria were used to subdivide the rocks into tholeiitic and calc-alkaline types. The tholeiitic rocks are characterized by flat to moderately sloping chondrite-normalized REE patterns. On the basis of immobile trace-element ratios, the tholeiitic mafic rocks from Omai have characteristics of immature intra-oceanic island arcs, or of E-MORB basalts affected by a strong arc signature, as is commonly reported for back-arc basin basalts. The andesites, quartz-feldspar porphyries, rhyolites and quartz monzodioritic stock are calc-alkaline, with strongly sloping REE patterns, enrichments in the large-ion lithophile elements, and depletions in the heavy REE and high-field-strength elements, features which are typical of more mature island-arc settings. At Omai, two types of gold-bearing veins can be distinguished: vein sets (± stockworks) and tension veins, both post-dating the regional metamorphic peak at the level they were emplaced. The relationship between the gold mineralization and its host lithologies does not seem to be genetic. Rather, the emplacement of mineralization was strongly influenced by the rheological contrasts between the intrusive/subvolcanic bodies and the volcanic/sedimentary country rocks. These contrasts helped to focus the regional stress upon the more competent intrusive subvolcanic bodies, resulting in brittle fracturing, and therefore in greatly enhanced permeability to hydrothermal fluids. The Omai gold mineralization can be classified as late tectonic, with its emplacement controlled by the last brittle to brittle-ductile stages of the Trans-Amazonian orogeny.
Mots Clés: Petrographical studies, Geochemical studies, Guyana, Basalts, Mafic-ultramafic intrusives, Conglomerates