Paleotectonic settings of volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits in the Dunnage Zone, Newfoundland Appalachians

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 84, No. 946, 1991

H. Scott Swinden, Newfoundland Department of Mines and Energy, Geological Survey Branch, St. John's, Newfoundland

sulphide (VMS) deposits. Geochemical, isotopic and geochronological studies show that the vestiges of lapetus in Newfoundland probably record a complex series of island arcs and back-arc basins that were marginal to, rather than part of, the main ocean basin of lapetus. The geochemical and isotopic data provide a means of characterizing the tectonic environment of individual volcanic sequences, and allow us to identify a number of distinct tectonic environments in which VMS deposition took place. Four tectonic environments have been identified as being associated with VMS deposition: (1) back-arc environments hosting VMS deposits include both N-MORB-type ophiolites (e.g. Skidder?) and volcanic sequences with oceanic island (or within plate) tholeiite characteristics (e.g. Great Burnt Lake); (2) primitive arc environments include both supra-subduction zone (SSZ) ophiolites (e.g. BettsCove, Rambler) and volcanic/epiclastic sequences (e.g. Point Leamington, Duck Pond) and are characterized by abundant arc tholeiites, with lesser refractory lavas and rhyolites; (3) mature arc environments comprise dominantly thick felsic and mafic volcanic piles in the Buchans - Robert's Arm Belt (including the Buchans camp) and are characterized by dominantly calc alkalic basalt and andesite; and (4) continental rift environments occur in the Hermitage Flexure area (e.g. Strickland deposit) and are characterized by dominantly felsic volcanic sequences. Island arc environments are by far the most prolific hosts to VMS deposits. Patterns of VMS distribution in central Newfoundland show that similar tectonic settings may be recorded by very different stratigraphic sequences (e.g. both ophiolites and thick volcanic/epiclastic sequences may record primitive arc rifting) and emphasize the importance of the rifting in VMS generation, irrespective of the details of the tectonic or stratigraphic setting. The ability to judge the prospectiveness of a volcanic sequence by using whole rock geochemistry to evaluate its tectonic environment may prove useful in area selection at the grassroots exploration level.
Mots Clés: Exploration, Volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits, Mineral deposits, Dunnage Zone, Newfoundland Appalachians.