2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM

Geochemistry of Hanging-Wall Metasedimentary Rocks at the Greens Creek Massive Sulfide Deposit, Southeastern Alaska

JOHNSON, Craig A., US Geological Survey, MS 963, Box 25046, Denver, CO 80225, TAYLOR, Cliff D., U.S. Geological Survey, Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center, Box 25046 Denver Federal Center, MS-973, Denver, CO 80225 and LEVENTHAL, Joel S., NA, U. S. Geol Survey, Federal Center, MS 973, Denver, CO 80225, cjohnso@usgs.gov

Greens Creek is an unusual massive sulfide deposit in showing affinities to both seafloor magmatic processes and sedimentary processes. Geochronology suggests that the ores were formed in Triassic time by hydrothermal activity associated with subseafloor mafic and ultramafic plutonism. The presence of Co, Ni, and Cu in the ores--along with Zn, Pb, Ag, and Au--is consistent with a magmatic metal source. Argillite of Triassic age comprises the hanging wall of the deposit. Evidence that sedimentary processes were important includes low and variable δ34S in ore sulfides (average: –13.9‰, range: –38.8 to 1.1‰) which implicates low-temperature bacterial sulfate reduction as the source of reduced sulfur. The rocks were overprinted by regional metamorphism in Cretaceous time.

Geochemical studies have been carried out on the hanging wall argillites to better constrain the role of sedimentary processes in ore formation. A few samples have S/C, degree-of-pyritization, and base- and precious metal concentrations like normal marine shales, but most are higher in these parameters. Dolomitic argillite has δ18O and δ13C values of 19±3‰ and –6±2‰, respectively, lower than normal marine carbonate but indistinguishable from the δ-values of hydrothermal dolomite within the orebody. Organic carbon, which is present in argillite in varying amounts, has a δ13C value of –25.9±0.9‰; the carbonate-organic carbon fractionation is uniform across a wide range of organic carbon contents. Dolomite δ13C is weakly correlated with organic carbon δ13C and with sulfur content.

We infer that (1) the argillite section experienced epigenetic additions of sulfur and metals, (2) the fluid that deposited sulfide-stage dolomite in the orebody also affected the overlying argillite section, (3) dolomite precipitated either from a single fluid over a range of temperatures or from a mixture of marine and hydrothermal fluids, and (4) H2S was produced from marine sulfate by oxidation of sedimentary organic matter or organic-derived methane.