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How much metal can you get? Quantified mass balancing of base metal release during epidosite zone alteration in ophiolite-hosted VMS systems

By Simon M. Jowitt, Gawen R.T. Jenkin, Laurence A. Coogan and Jon Naden


Understanding source-deposit relationships in VMS systems is important for mineral exploration and to increase knowledge of seafloor hydrothermal processes and ocean–crust fluxes. Although it is known that metals are stripped from oceanic crust by hydrothermal fluids and are partly redeposited in orebodies, some aspects are poorly understood. It has been proposed that metal-depleted epidosites (epidote–quartz–chlorite–Fe-oxide–titanite units within sheeted dyke complexes) were the source rocks for ophiolite-hosted VMS deposits. To test this hypothesis, the Spilia-Kannavia epidosite zone in the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus, was investigated. This zone (≥1.9 km3), at the base of the Sheeted Dyke Complex, extends ~5 km parallel to and ~2 km across dyke strike and vertically ≥400 m. During alteration, this zone released ~0.4 Mt Zn, ~0.06 Mt Ni, ~5.2 Mt MnO, and 0.14 Mt Cu. This exceeds the Zn within any ophiolite-hosted VMS deposit, and provides enough Cu for a medium-large deposit. In comparison, published data suggest a similar volume of background diabase could mobilise less Zn, Cu and Ni and no Co or Mn. It is concluded that epidosite zone formation releases significant amounts of base metals into ophiolite-hosted VMS system

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: James Cook University
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:

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