Characterization of High-PGE Low-Sulphur Mineralization at the Marathon PGE-Cu Deposit, Ontario
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The Marathon PGM-Cu deposit is hosted by the Coldwell alkaline complex, which consists predominantly of gabbro and syenite and was emplaced at 1108 Ma as part of the Mid-Continent Rift System. Mineralization at the Marathon PGM-Cu deposit is hosted by the Two Duck Lake Gabbro (TDLG), a fresh olivine-bearing gabbro. The Marathon deposit contains several zones of mineralization including the Basal Zone, the Main Zone and the W-Horizon. The W-Horizon is a high-grade PGE zone characterized by low S, low Cu/Pd and high Cu/Ni. The sulphide mineral assemblage is predominantly chalcopyrite and bornite. This contrasts with the Main Zone where the dominant sulphide mineral assemblage is chalcopyrite and pyrrhotite. The Main Zone contains higher S, higher Cu/Pd and shows a decrease in Cu/Pd and pyrrhotite/chalcopyrite from base to top. Four drill holes were selected for detailed analysis to characterize the W-Horizon style of mineralization. Detailed petrographic study of the pristine and largely unaltered TDLG shows that wide spread hydrothermal alteration is not responsible for the mineralization. Detailed outcrop mapping shows that the TDLG intruded as a series of multiple intrusions in a dynamic magmatic system. Geochemical studies through the W-Horizon show that the mineralization is not the result of crystallization in a layered intrusion. The results of geochemical assays and electron microprobe analysis of olivine grains show that the chemistry through the TDLG hosting the W-Horizon is erratic. This data supports the TDLG intruding as a series of sills in a dynamic conduit environment. The calculated sulphide metal tenors for the W-Horizon are higher than can be explained by closed system R Factor models. Multistage dissolution upgrading in an open system is examined as the process forming the W-Horizon. This model is able to produce the sulphide metal tenors observed in the W-Horizon. Sulphur loss also affects grades and tenors and was examined through geochemical and petrological data. The change in sulphide mineral assemblage from a pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite (S-rich) to chalcopyrite and bornite (S-poor) supports S-loss. Whole rock S and Se contents are also analyzed to investigate S loss, a lower S/Se indicates that sulphur has been removed from the system. Average S/Se values are ~800 for the W-Horizon, ~1980 for the Main Zone and ~1700 in unmineralized samples. The very low S/Se observed within the W-Horizon supports S-loss. Sulphur loss in a dynamic magmatic conduit system is proposed for the formation of the W-Horizon mineralization. In this model sulphur undersaturated basaltic magma interacted with an immiscible sulphide liquid in a magma conduit, resulting in the dissolution of sulphide into the basaltic melt and PGE enrichment.