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Applications of trace element chemistry of pyrite and chalcopyrite in glacial sediments to mineral exploration targeting: Example from the Churchill Province, northern Quebec, Canada

Duran Charley J., Dubé-Loubert Hugo, Pagé Philippe, Barnes Sarah-Jane, Roy Martin, Savard Dany, Cave Ben J., Arguin Jean-Philippe et Mansur Eduardo T.. (2019). Applications of trace element chemistry of pyrite and chalcopyrite in glacial sediments to mineral exploration targeting: Example from the Churchill Province, northern Quebec, Canada. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 196, p. 105-130.

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Bedrock in arctic and subarctic regions is covered by glacial deposits making the discovery of new mineral deposits difficult. Indicator mineral methods using glacial sediment have thus been developed for mineral exploration in such drift-covered areas. However, sulfide indicator minerals have been under utilized because it was thought that they would not survive glacial transport and post-depositional oxidation during soil formation. In this contribution we show that the 0.25–1 mm non-ferromagnetic heavy mineral concentrates of Quaternary till and esker samples from the Churchill province in northern Quebec, Canada, contain thousands of pyrite and chalcopyrite grains and a few sulfarsenide grains. Accordingly, sulfide minerals do survive glacial and glaciofluvial transport, even in the relatively oxidizing environment of the eskers, and their presence indicates the potential presence of mineralized bedrock up ice. The study area is therefore ideal to test the use of sulfide mineral chemistry for mineral assessment and vectoring. The composition of the pyrite and chalcopyrite grains recovered from the glacial deposits have been determined by LA-ICP-MS and compared with known values for sulfides in magmatic and hydrothermal deposits. Although some elements (e.g. Ag, Cu, Zn, Pb, W, Ba, La, and Yb) are enriched in narrow rims on some sulfide grains, indicating their limited mobility during oxidation, most elements have not been mobilized and reflect initial sulfide compositions in bedrock sources. The binary diagram Co/Sb versus Se/As shows that most of the pyrite grains in surficial sediments are of magmatic origin although some are from hydrothermal sources. The hydrothermal pyrites are enriched in hydrothermal pathfinders (Au, Hg, Ag, Tl, Pb, Zn, Cu, and Mo). The ternary diagram Se-Cd-Ni shows that chalcopyrites from both magmatic and hydrothermal deposits are present in glacial sediments. The high Cd/Zn ratios of the hydrothermal chalcopyrites are indicative of a high crystallization temperature, typical of metamorphosed VMS or SEDEX deposits. Integrated maps combining bedrock geology, glacial transport directions, sample locations, and sulfide grain compositions and populations can be used to delineate target sectors for mineral exploration. Here sulfides have been transported over ~100 km roughly towards north, from sources in the Rachel-Laporte Zone and the Labrador Trough, where metasedimentary/metavolcanic rocks and mafic/ultramafic intrusive rocks are favorable hosts for hydrothermal and magmatic mineralization, respectively.

Type de document:Article publié dans une revue avec comité d'évaluation
Pages:p. 105-130
Version évaluée par les pairs:Oui
Sujets:Sciences naturelles et génie > Sciences naturelles > Sciences de la terre (géologie, géographie)
Département, module, service et unité de recherche:Départements et modules > Département des sciences appliquées > Unité d'enseignement en sciences de la Terre
Mots-clés:indicator minerals, till and esker samples, sulfides and sulfarsenides, discrimination diagrams, mineral targeting, LA-ICP-MS
Déposé le:02 avr. 2019 00:51
Dernière modification:10 févr. 2023 18:52
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