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Published February 1982 | public
Journal Article

Some petrologic and oxygen isotopic relationships in the Amulet Mine, Noranda, Quebec, and their bearing on the origin of Archean massive sulfide deposits


A concentrically zoned alteration pipe is present at the Amulet "A" Cu-Zn mine in the Archean Abitibi greenstone belt. The pipe consists of a central core zone of so-called "dalmatianite" (=spotted cordierite-anthophyllite rock) surrounded by a zone of biotite-bearing grid-fracture alteration. Study of the dalmatianite indicates that these rocks experienced two episodes of recrystallization. First, the original andesite was completely reconstituted during a hydrothermal event, producing a quartz-chlorite assemblage. This transformation was associated with the formation of the massive sulfide lens and presumably took place in a submarine environment. Later contact metamorphism associated with the intrusion of the nearby Lake Dufault granodiorite resulted in partial recrystallization of the chlorite and quartz to cordierite and anthophyllite.Whole-rock delta ¹⁸O values decrease from about 6 to 10 in most of the Abitibi belt to 5 to 7 in the country rocks surrounding the ore deposit, to values as low as 3.6 in the core of the dalmatianite zone. This oxygen isotopic zoning must have been produced by the hydrothermal activity, because the dehydration reactions associated with contact metamorphism cannot have affected delta ¹⁸O by more than 0.5 per mil. Assuming an alteration temperature of 300 degrees + or - 50 degrees C and a water/rock ratio greater than two, the hydrothermal fluid must have had delta ¹⁸O = 0.5 + or - 1.0. This indicates that the Amulet ore deposit formed from a hydrothermal fluid that had a delta ¹⁸O value similar both to modern seawater and to the fluids which formed the Phanerozoic massive sulfide deposits of the Kuroko and Cyprus types. The apparent constancy of delta ¹⁸O of seawater during the Precambrian and the continued importance of seawater hydrothermal processes are important constraints which must be considered in developing models of the history of the earth.

Additional Information

© 1982 Society of Economic Geologists. Permission to visit and sample the Amulet mine was arranged by Geoff Snow of Noranda Exploration. W. A. "Bud" Hogg provided invaluable assistance in the field. Discussions with Geoff Snow, Steve Zahony, and Lee Silver contributed to the authors' understanding of massive sulfide deposits. Interpretation of the data benefited from discussions with R. E. Criss, R. T. Gregory, P. Larson, R. E. Powell, and A. L. Albee. The manuscript was reviewed by K. Hattori, K. Muehlenbachs, and G. Riverin. This work represents a portion of the senior author's Ph.D. thesis at Caltech, and it was read before the American Geophysical Union in May, 1980. Financial support from NSF Grants EAR-76-21310 and EAR-78-16874 and the Department of Energy grant EX-76-G-03-1305 is gratefully acknowledged.

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October 20, 2023