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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fracture reactivation and gold mineralization in the epithermal environment : structural evolution of the Endeavour 42 gold deposit, New South Wales, Australia Henry, Amber Dawn


The development of an open pit mine at the Endeavour 42 (E42) epithermal gold deposit, situated in the Junee-Narromine Volcanic Belt of the Ordovician Macquarie Arc, central New South Wales, has provided a 3D view of the structurally controlled deposit which was hitherto not available due to the paucity of outcrop in the region. Outcropping geological relationships present a complicated history of overprinting structural deformation and vein events, including the spatial characterization of the gold-mineralizing system. Host rocks consisting of interbedded sedimentary and resedimented volcaniclastic facies, trachyandesite and porphyritic andesite lavas and intrusions (coherent and autoclastic facies), intruded by a large diorite sill, were initially tilted and faulted, followed by the emplacement of multiple dyke phases along faults. Economic gold mineralization at E42 is restricted to faults, fault-hosted breccias, and veins, and was deposited over a period spanning two distinct structural regimes. Early gold-bearing veins are steeply dipping and interpreted as forming coevally along two sets of faults and dykes within a tensional stress regime. High grade fault-hosted, hydrothermally cemented breccia intervals are included temporally with early gold-bearing veins based on comparable mineralogy and steep, fault parallel orientations. Crosscutting the early steep gold-bearing vein sets are two populations of coeval inclined gold-bearing veins, dipping moderately to the southwest and northwest, respectively, which formed in a compressional stress regime with tension directed subvertically. The E42 epithermal deposit likely developed in the period of overall crustal extension, ca. 443-433 Ma, following Phase 1 of the Late Ordovician – Early Silurian Benambran Orogeny. The generation of permeability, styles of fracture propagation, and the reactivation of pre-existing planes of weakness in the rock package are key factors in the development and current geometry of the E42 gold deposit. High grade veins and faults are commonly flanked by sericite-quartz ± carbonate alteration haloes, which exhibit consistent geochemical patterns for metals and pathfinder elements, both laterally away from structures, and vertically within the deposit. Au, Ag, As, Hg, Sb, Tl, Cu, Pb, and Zn, all display increasing concentrations towards high-grade structures, as well as higher up in the epithermal system, with varying dispersion haloes.

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