Geochemical and mineralogical haloes about the Elura Zn-Pb-Ag orebody, western New South Wales

G. F. Taylor*, J. R. Wilmshurst, Y. Togashi, A. S. Andrew

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Elura Zn-Pb-Ag deposit, situated 43 km NNW of Cobar, western New South Wales, is hosted by the C.S.A. Siltstone, a distal turbidite sequence. Deep weathering has given rise to a bleached quartz-muscovite-kaolinite rock to a depth of approximately 80 m. Weathered bedrock is mantled by a thin (0.3-2 m) layer of soil and transported overburden which contains thin layers of maghemite-bearing gravels. Outcrop in the area is extremely poor with the insignificant gossan subcrop covered by 0.2 m of soil. The water table is presently at a depth of about 80 m. Groundwater is saline with up to 2.5% total dissolved solids. Oxidation of the orebody has resulted in the formation of a gossan and ferruginization of wall rocks. Elements associated with ore and retained at high concentration in the gossan are Ag, As, Ba, Cu, Hg, Mo, Pb, Sb, (Se) and Sn; much of the Zn has been leached whilst Cd and Tl are below the detection limits. Silver, Cu and Hg have been partially leached and concentrated in the supergene zone. Ferruginous wall rock contains substantial amounts of Pb, As and Ba but other element contents are substantially lower than in the gossan. Secondary dispersion from the Elura orebody is largely restricted to an interpreted paleodrainage channel SW of the orebody and has occurred in two distinct periods. Mobile elements, particularly Zn, leached during gossan formation, occur in anomalous concentrations at or near the water table. More recently, the less mobile elements Pb, As, Bi, Hg and Sb have been leached from mechanically transported fragments of ferruginized wall rock and gossan by the saline groundwaters and occur as anomalies up to 150 m from the gossan in near-surface bedrock. Copper and Zn form broad low-contrast anomalies whilst Sn is retained within the gossan. Iron-rich bands, 50-1200 mm in thickness, which are common in the weathered zone about the Elura orebody, were formed by precipitation from groundwater passing along bedding planes, shears, fractures and cracks. They have higher As, Bi, Co, Cu, Mn, Ni, Zn, lower values of Ba and Sr, and similar Pb, Sb and Sn contents to the weathered siltstones. Iron may be derived from Fe-rich carbonates in the siltstones and be redeposited as goethite and minor hematite. These Fe-rich bands have trapped target and pathfinder elements which are believed to be from primary haloes rather than from the orebody or gossan. A two-stage mechanism for the formation of some secondary minerals within the weathered zone has been confirmed by stable light isotope studies. These studies have also shown that fractionation of S isotopes is minimal during gossan formation, and that a S isotopic halo in weathered bedrock may be used as an exploration tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-290
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Geochemical Exploration
Volume22
Issue number1-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

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