Vectors to ore in replacive volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits of the northern Iberian Pyrite Belt: mineral zoning, whole rock geochemistry, and application of portable X-ray fluorescence

Gisbert, Guillem; Tornos, Fernando; Losantos, Emma; Pons, Juan Manuel; Videira, Juan Carlos

In this work we have performed a detailed study of vectors to ore to a representative volcanic-rock-hosted replacive volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit located in the northern Iberian Pyrite Belt (Spain), the Aguas Teñidas deposit. The investigated vectors include the following: (1) mineralogical zoning, (2) host sequence characterization and mineralized unit identification based on whole rock geochemistry discrimination diagrams, (3) study of the characteristics and behaviour of whole rock geochemical anomalies around the ore (e.g. alteration-related compositional changes, characteristics and extent of geochemical halos of indicative elements such as Cu, Zn, Pb, Sb, Tl, and Ba around the deposit), and (4) application of portable X-ray fluorescence (p-XRF) analysis to the detection of the previous vectors.

In the footwall, a concentric cone-shaped hydrothermal alteration zone bearing the stockwork passes laterally, from core to edge, from quartz (only local) to chlorite–quartz, sericite–chlorite–quartz, and sericite–quartz alteration zones. The hydrothermal alteration is also found in the hanging wall despite being tectonically allochthonous to the orebody: a proximal sericite alteration zone is followed by a more distal albite-rich one. Whole rock major elements show an increase in alteration indexes (e.g. AI, CCPI) towards the mineralization, a general SiOinline-formula2 enrichment, and FeO enrichment as well as Kinline-formula2O and Nainline-formula2O depletion towards the centre of the hydrothermal system, with MgO showing a less systematic behaviour. Kinline-formula2O and Nainline-formula2O leached from the centre of the system are transported and deposited in more external areas. Copper, Pb, and Zn produce proximal anomalies around mineralized areas, with the more mobile Sb, Tl, and Ba generating wider halos. Whereas Sb and Tl halos form around all mineralized areas, Ba anomalies are restricted to areas around the massive sulfide body. Our results show that proposed vectors, or adaptations designed to overcome p-XRF limitations, can be confidently used by analysing unprepared hand specimens, including the external rough curved surface of drill cores.

The data presented in this work are not only applicable to VMS exploration in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, but on a broader scale they will also contribute to improving our general understanding of vectors to ore in replacive-type VMS deposits.

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Gisbert, Guillem / Tornos, Fernando / Losantos, Emma / et al: Vectors to ore in replacive volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits of the northern Iberian Pyrite Belt: mineral zoning, whole rock geochemistry, and application of portable X-ray fluorescence. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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