The Paleoproterozoic McArthur River (HYC) Pb/Zn/Ag deposit of northern Australia

Organic geochemistry and ore genesis

Junhong Chen, Malcolm R. Walter*, Graham A. Logan, Mark C. Hinman, Roger E. Summons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in ore and mudstone within the McArthur River ore deposit show compound distribution patterns similar to those of hydrothermally generated petroleum in the Guaymas Basin and significantly different from those found in conventional oil. PAH abundances and their isomer distributions result from a temperature gradient between the source of mineralizing fluids and the sediments fringing the ore system during ore formation. Along with other geochemical, geological, paleobiological and mineralogical lines of evidence, these data provide strong evidence that the ore formed within partially lithified sediments under marine conditions. Given that the McArthur River ore body is an exquisitely preserved example of a sediment-hosted base-metal deposit, these results may be widely applicable. The McArthur deposit is also a rich repository of paleobiological information, allowing studies of the microbiology of ore formation and the paleobiology of an ancient hydrothermal system, as is discussed elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-479
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2003


  • Australia
  • Hydrothermal ore deposit
  • McArthur River
  • Organic geochemistry
  • Proterozoic

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