Scientific article
Open access

Mineral zoning and gold occurrence in the Fortuna skarn mine, Nambija district, Ecuador

Published inMineralium deposita, vol. 41, no. 4, p. 301-321
  • Open Access - Licence nationale Springer
Publication date2006

The Fortuna oxidized gold skarn deposit is located in the northern part of the Nambija gold district, southern Ecuador. It has been subdivided into four mineralized sites, covering a distance of 1 km, which are named from north to south: Cuerpo 3, Mine 1, Mine 2, and Southern Sector. Massive skarn bodies occur in K–Na metasomatized volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks of the Triassic Piuntza unit. They appear to result from selective replacement of volcaniclastic rocks. Very minor presence of bioclast relicts suggests the presence of subordinate limestone. Endoskarn type alteration with development of Na-rich plagioclase, K-feldspar, epidote, actinolite, anhe- dral pyroxene, and titanite affects a quartz–diorite por- phyritic intrusion which crops out below the skarn bodies in Mine 2 and the Southern Sector. Endoskarn alteration in the intrusion grades into a K-feldspar ± biotite ± magnetite assemblage (K-alteration), suggesting that skarn formation is directly related to the quartz–diorite porphyritic intrusion, the latter being probably emplaced between 141 and 146 Ma. The massive skarn bodies were subdivided into a dominant brown garnet skarn, a distal green pyroxene– epidote skarn, and two quartz-rich varieties, a blue-green garnet skarn and light green pyroxene–garnet skarn, which occur as patches and small bodies within the former skarn types. The proximal massive brown garnet skarn zone is centered on two 060° trending faults in Mine 2, where the highest gold grades (5–10 g/t) were observed. It grades into a distal green pyroxene–epidote skarn zone to the North (Cuerpo 3). Granditic garnet shows iron enrichment from the proximal to the distal zone. Diopsidic pyroxeneexhibits iron and manganese enrichment from proximal to distal zones. The retrograde stage is weakly developed and consists mainly of mineral phases filling centimeter-wide veins, vugs, and interstices between garnet and pyroxene grains. The main filling mineral is quartz, followed by K- feldspar, epidote, calcite, and chlorite, with minor sericite, apatite, titanite, hematite, pyrite, chalcopyrite, and gold. Metal and sulfur contents are low at Fortuna, and the highest gold grades coincide with high hematite abundance, which suggests that retrograde stage and gold deposition took place under oxidizing conditions. Fluid inclusions from pyroxene indicate precipitation from high tempera- ture—high to moderate salinity fluids (400 to 460°C and 54- to 13-wt% eq. NaCl), which result probably from boiling of a moderately saline (∼8-wt% eq. NaCl) magmatic fluid. Later cooler (180 to 475°C) and moderate to low saline fluids (1- to 20-wt% eq. NaCl) were trapped in garnet, epidote, and quartz, and are interpreted to be responsible for gold deposition. Chlorite analysis indicates temperature of formation between 300 and 340°C in accordance with fluid inclusion data. It appears, thus, that gold was transported as chloride complexes under oxidizing conditions and was deposited at temperatures around 300°C when transport of chloride complexes as gold carriers is not efficient.

Citation (ISO format)
MARKOWSKI, Agnès et al. Mineral zoning and gold occurrence in the Fortuna skarn mine, Nambija district, Ecuador. In: Mineralium deposita, 2006, vol. 41, n° 4, p. 301–321. doi: 10.1007/s00126-006-0062-x
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ISSN of the journal0026-4598

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