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Two billion years of evolution enclosed in hydrothermal rutile: recycling of the São Francisco Craton Crust and constraints on gold remobilisation processes

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The Quadrilátero Ferrífero in the São Francisco Craton, Brazil is known for its world-class gold deposits hosted by the Rio das Velhas greenstone belt (RdV). As in other greenstone belts, gold is also concentrated in late Archean/early Paleoproterozoic supracrustal units; in this case within the Moeda Formation. This unit has been compared to the Witwatersrand basin where there has been a long-term debate over the nature of the gold and whether it is detrital (placer), hydrothermal or hybrid (modified placer). Presently, links between gold in the Moeda Formation and RdV are tenuous. To enlighten this area of ambiguity, a new approach using chemical, isotopic and mineral inclusion data from detrital rutile found in the gold-bearing horizons of the Moeda Formation is presented. Grain textures and mineral inclusions have contributed to establishing a primary hydrothermal origin for the rutile, related to As-Fe-Cu-Sb-Pb-W rich mineralising fluids. Fe, Nb and V indicate that the likely source of the gold-related rutiles is the Archean banded iron formations within the RdV, where most of the lode-gold occurs. Average Nb/Ta values of these rutiles are lower than average continental crust ratios which suggests fractionation driven by fluid precipitation and/or competing mineral phases. U-Pb data yield primary crystallization ages older than deposition ages (>2.58 Ga), supporting the detrital nature of these rutiles. Rutiles record either resetting or new growth at 2.1 Ga and at ca. 500 Ma, during which gold was remobilised. Hence, this study supports a modified placer model for the gold-bearing horizons of the Moeda Formation. These fluid-assisted gold remobilisation events can be found in other correlated Paleoproterozoic gold-bearing horizon units that represent intracratonic basins related to the rifting of the Kenorland Supercontinent. This study reinforces the suitability of rutile and mineral inclusions as a powerful tool to elucidate processes and provenance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGondwana Research
Early online date28 Dec 2018
Publication statusEarly online - 28 Dec 2018


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