Scientific article
Open access

Magmatic-dominated fluid evolution in the Jurassic Nambija gold skarn deposits (southeastern Ecuador)

Published inMineralium deposita, vol. 44, no. 4, p. 389-413
  • Open Access - Licence nationale Springer
Publication date2009

The Jurassic (approximately 145 Ma) Nambija oxidized gold skarns are hosted by the Triassic volcanosedi- mentary Piuntza unit in the sub-Andean zone of southeastern Ecuador. The skarns consist dominantly of granditic garnet (Ad20–98) with subordinate pyroxene (Di46–92Hd17–42Jo0–19) and epidote and are spatially associated with porphyritic quartz-diorite to granodiorite intrusions. Endoskarn is developed at the intrusion margins and grades inwards into a potassic alteration zone. Exoskarn has an outer K- and Na-enriched zone in the volcanosedimentary unit. Gold mineralization is associated with the weakly developed retrograde alteration of the exoskarn and occurs mainly in sulfide-poor vugs and milky quartz veins and veinlets in association with hematite. Fluid inclusion data for the mainpart of the prograde stage indicate the coexistence of high- temperature (500°C to >600°C), high-salinity (up to 65 wt. % eq. NaCl), and moderate- to low-salinity aqueous- carbonic fluids interpreted to have been trapped at pressures around 100–120 MPa, corresponding to about 4-km depth. Lower-temperature (510–300°C) and moderate- to low- salinity (23–2 wt.% eq. NaCl) aqueous fluids are recorded in garnet and epidote of the end of the prograde stage. The microthermometric data (Th from 513°C to 318°C and salinity from 1.0 to 23 wt.% eq. NaCl) and δ18O values between 6.2‰ and 11.5‰ for gold-bearing milky quartz from the retrograde stage suggest that the ore-forming fluid was dominantly magmatic. Pressures during the early retrograde stage were in the range of 50–100 MPa, in line with the evidence for CO2 effervescence and probable local boiling. The dominance of magmatic low-saline to moder- ately saline oxidizing fluids during the retrograde stage is consistent with the depth of the skarn system, which could have delayed the ingression of external fluids until relatively low temperatures were reached. The resulting low water-to-rock ratios explain the weak retrograde alteration and the compositional variability of chlorite, essentially controlled by host rock compositions. Gold was precipitated at this stage as a result of cooling and pH increase related to CO2 effervescence, which both result in destabilization of gold-bearing chloride complexes. Signif- icant ingression of external fluids took place after gold deposition only, as recorded by δ18O values of 0.4‰ to 6.2‰ for fluids depositing quartz (below 350°C) in sulfide- rich barren veins. Low-temperature (<300°C) meteoric fluids (δ18Owater between −10.0‰ and −2.0‰) are respon- sible for the precipitation of late comb quartz and calcite in cavities and veins and indicate mixing with cooler fluids of higher salinities (about 100°C and 25 wt.% eq. NaCl). The latter are similar to low-temperature fluids (202–74.5°C)with δ18O values of −0.5‰ to 3.1‰ and salinities in the range of 21.1 to 17.3 wt.% eq. CaCl2, trapped in calcite of late veins and interpreted as basinal brines. Nambija represents a deep equivalent of the oxidized gold skarn class, the presence of CO2 in the fluids being partly a consequence of the relatively deep setting at about 4-km depth. As in other Au-bearing skarn deposits, not only the prograde stage but also the gold-precipitating retrograde stage is dominated by fluids of magmatic origin.

Citation (ISO format)
VALLANCE, Jean et al. Magmatic-dominated fluid evolution in the Jurassic Nambija gold skarn deposits (southeastern Ecuador). In: Mineralium deposita, 2009, vol. 44, n° 4, p. 389–413. doi: 10.1007/s00126-009-0238-2
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0026-4598

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