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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A lead isotope study of selected precious metal deposits in British Columbia Andrew, Anne


Lead isotope analyses of galena from multiple ore deposits restricted to specific tectono-stratigraphic terranes can provide information on the age and origin of the lead. In this thesis, three separate studies of lead isotopes applied to the metallogenesis of parts of the Canadian Cordillera are presented. Lead isotope data from quartz-gold vein deposits and volcanogenic and related deposits in the Insular Belt group plot in four distinct clusters on Pb-Pb plots. Each cluster corresponds to a specific deposit type and host rock category. Two parallel evolutionary trends in the lead isotopic composition exist: 1) Sicker-hosted volcanogenic deposits to Sicker-hosted veins, and 2) Karmutsen and Bonanza-hosted volcanogenic and related deposits to Karmutsen and Bonanza-hosted veins. The trends indicate a genetic relationship between host rock and isotopic composition. These observations favour a host rock source for the lead in vein deposits and, by association, a comparable source for the gold. Plutonic or abyssal direct sources of metals are not consistent with the lead isotopic data. It is suggested that the gold was extracted from the country rock, and concentrated as veins by hydrothermal activity related to Tertiary plutons. Vein deposits are isotopically distinct from volcanogenic and related deposits, providing an empirical test for distinguishing syngenetic from epigenetic deposits. Karmutsen and Bonanza-hosted deposits are more depleted in 207Pb than similar deposits in Sicker Group rocks, indicating significantly different sources for volcanic components of these two important rock units. Lead isotope data from quartz-gold veins in the Cariboo area of the Omineca Belt, and from similar veins in the adjacent Intermontane Belt indicate that these two vein types are genetically unrelated. A mid-Mesozoic model age calculated for the Cariboo gold mineralisation event indicates that all of the deposits examined are clearly epigenetic, despite reported stratiform textures at the Mosquito Creek mine. K-Ar dates from a quartz-barite vein and from regionally metamorphosed phyllite support a synmetamorphic origin for the veins, but a distal plutonic origin is not ruled out. Recent work by Godwin and Sinclair (1982) has shown that syngenetic, shale-hosted, sedimentary exhalative deposits in the autochthonous part of the Canadian Cordillera contain lead which has evolved in a high U/Pb environment. This 'shale' curve evolution model applies to deposits which have an upper crustal (host-rock) lead source. Ainsworth-Bluebell, Carmi and Slocan camps, and lead associated with the Moyie intrusions, all contain lead which plots substantially and variably below the 'shale' curve. Their departures from this curve provide evidence for a second, uranium poor, possibly lower crustal lead source, for which a growth curve, referred to as the Bluebell curve, can be constructed. The lead data are interpreted within the framework provided by these two growth curves. Mixing of lead between these two lead reservoirs is proposed to explain the linear array of data from Slocan and Carmi camps. Mixing lines, joining points of equal time on the two growth curves, provide a method for interpreting lead data from these deposits. Introduction of relatively unradiogenic lead into the upper crust via magmas which originated in the lower crust is invoked to explain the mixing. The three studies considered here illustrate the differences in lead isotopic characteristics of different tectono-stratigraphic terranes and show that the development of local models for the interpretation of common lead isotope data has application to exploration.

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