The origin of the sediment-hosted Kanmantoo Cu-Au deposit, South Australia: Mineralogical considerations

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Pollock, Meaghan
Tott, Katherine
Koenig, Alan
Both, Ross
Ogierman, Joseph
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Spry, Paul
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Geological and Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences offers majors in three areas: Geology (traditional, environmental, or hydrogeology, for work as a surveyor or in mineral exploration), Meteorology (studies in global atmosphere, weather technology, and modeling for work as a meteorologist), and Earth Sciences (interdisciplinary mixture of geology, meteorology, and other natural sciences, with option of teacher-licensure).

The Department of Geology and Mining was founded in 1898. In 1902 its name changed to the Department of Geology. In 1965 its name changed to the Department of Earth Science. In 1977 its name changed to the Department of Earth Sciences. In 1989 its name changed to the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences.

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  • Department of Geology and Mining (1898-1902)
  • Department of Geology (1902-1965)
  • Department of Earth Science (1965-1977)
  • Department of Earth Sciences (1977-1989)

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Multiply deformed sediments of the Cambrian Kanmantoo Group, which were metamorphosed to the amphibolite facies, host numerous Cu-Au, Fe-S, and Pb-Zn-Ag-(Cu-Au) deposits, of which the largest Cu-Au deposit is Kanmantoo (34.5 Mt @ 0.6% Cu and 0.1 g/t Au). Mineralization at Kanmantoo is characterized by discordant and pipe-like orebodies (Kavanagh and Emily Star) along with mineralization locally concordant to bedding (Nugent) that is spatially related to meta-exhalative rocks. Previous studies have suggested a syn-sedimentary origin for the Pb-Zn-Ag-(Cu-Au) and Fe-S deposits, whereas the Kanmantoo deposit remains controversial, with syn-sedimentary, metamorphogenic, and post-peak metamorphic models having being applied. The stratiform nature of some parts of the Nugent orebody, and disseminated sulfides locally concordant to bedding along with the recognition of a zone of chalcopyrite-magnetiterich rocks at the syn-sedimentary Wheal Ellen Pb-Zn-Ag-(Cu-Au) deposit, which shows a metallic mineral assemblage almost identical to the most common assemblage at Kanmantoo, supports a genetic link between the Pb-Zn-Ag-(Cu-Au) deposits and Cu-Au mineralization, and is consistent with a metamorphosed syn-sedimentary model for Cu-Au mineralization. The discordant nature of most orebodies at Kanmantoo is the result of the mineralization having formed as stockwork zones in sub-seafloor pipes. Varying degrees of remobilization were subsequently associated with syn- to post-peak metamorphism. Major and trace element compositions, coupled with principal component analyses, show that the compositions of garnet, biotite, staurolite, chlorite, muscovite, and magnetite in metamorphosed altered rocks spatially associated with sulfide mineralization at Kanmantoo can be distinguished from those, where present, in metamorphosed country rocks (i.e., metapsammites and metapelites). Garnet, chlorite, biotite, and muscovite in quartz garnetite within quartz mica schist associated with the Nugent orebody are elevated in Mn (up to 19.5wt% MnO – garnet, 2,825 ppm – chlorite, 3,206 ppm – biotite, and 108 ppm – muscovite) and Zn (up to 170 ppm – garnet, 1,602 ppm – chlorite, 1,592 ppm – biotite, and 108 ppm – muscovite) relative to samples in other orebodies and in unmineralized rocks elsewhere in the Kanmantoo Group. Such enrichments in these elements mimic similar enrichments in the same minerals in metamorphosed altered rocks associated with Pb-Zn-Ag-(Cu-Au) deposits in the Kanmantoo Group. Biotite in metamorphosed altered rocks at Kanmantoo contains elevated concentrations of Pb (up to 110 ppm), and, in general, Zn (up to 841 ppm), whereas muscovite is also elevated in Pb, Zn, and Cu (up to 272 ppm Pb, 78 ppm Zn, and 173 ppm Cu). Staurolite in these same rocks contains up to 1.6wt% ZnO (with one outlier that contains 3.2wt%ZnO) and is considerably more enriched in Zn than in unaltered country rocks (∼0.1wt% Zn). The trace element enrichments in silicates studied here constitute a potential pathfinder to metamorphosed Cu-Au mineralization in the Kanmantoo Group and emphasize the geochemical and genetic links between the Pb-Zn-Ag-(Cu-Au) and Cu-Au deposits.


This article is published as Pollock, Meaghan V., Paul G. Spry, Katherine A. Tott, Alan Koenig, Ross A. Both, and Joseph Ogierman. "The origin of the sediment-hosted Kanmantoo Cu-Au deposit, South Australia: Mineralogical considerations." Ore Geology Reviews 95 (2018): 94-117. doi:10.1016/j.oregeorev.2018.02.017.