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13o Simpsio de Geologia da Amaznia

Belm | 22 a 26 de setembro de 2013

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MINERALOGY AND STABLE ISOTOPES AT THE CANAHUIRE EPITHERMAL Au (Cu-Ag) DEPOSIT, SOUTHERN PERU: PRELIMINARY DATA
Elena Malsquez Lpez, Instituto de Geocincias UNICAMP
(elenamalasquez@ige.unicamp.br)
Roberto Perez Xavier, Instituto de Geocincias UNICAMP (xavier@ige.unicamp.br)
Regina Baumgartner, Gold Fields Exploration (regina.baumgartner@gfexpl.com)
INTRODUCTION
The Canahuire Au-(Cu-Ag) deposit is located in the southern Peruvian Andes, at 4300
m.a.s.l. and it is the first precious metal carbonate-hosted intermediate sulphidation epithermal
deposit in the region. Similar systems in Peru consist dominantly of base metal replacement
deposits, with limited gold content, such as Cerro de Pasco (Baumgartner et al. 2008) and
Colquijirca (Bendez et al. 2009), among others.
The main outcropping rocks at Canahuire consist of a folded and faulted sedimentary
sequence of the Yura Group (Late Jurassic to early Cretaceous) which includes, from bottom to
top, shale, sandstone, and limestone. The limestones are part of the Gramadal Formation and are
the main host of the mineralisation. A set of WNW-ENE-striking faults developed a dilational
jog-type structure which hosts a breccia complex, with phreatomagmatic and hydrothermal
breccias, and part of the mineralisation (Santos et al. 2011). The phreatomagmatic breccia (also
called diatreme breccia) contains rounded clasts of all types of rocks present in the area floating
in a fine-grained rock flour matrix. Hydrothermal breccias are monomictic or polymictic with
sedimentary and rhyolite clasts and display a poorly developed matrix but a well-developed
cement composed of siderite and sulphides, mostly pyrite. The Chucapaca volcanic complex,
located about 1.5km to the east of Canahuire is composed mainly of rhyolite domes and is
probably temporally related to the breccia complex at Canahuire.
HYDROTHERMAL ALTERATION AND ORE PETROGRAPHY
Hydrothermal alteration is dominated by siderite which replaces mainly limestone of the
Gramadal Formation, but also occurs filling cavities in the breccia complex. Argillic alteration
has been mainly documented in the phreatomagmatic breccia and consists of kaolinite, smectite
and illite. Most part of the ore occurs as replacement bodies in the Gramadal limestone and to a
lesser extent in the hydrothermal breccias from the breccia complex. In both cases, the ore
contains gold, chalcopyrite tennantite tetrahedrite accompanied by abundant pyrite and
siderite. Marcasite, arsenopyrite and minor pyrrhotite are also present.
Field relationships, drill core descriptions and petrographic studies define two
mineralisation stages for Canahuire. The first (stage I) is marked by the assemblage pyrite I,
pyrrhotite, arsenopyrite and magnetite. The second stage (stage II), in which most of the gold has
been introduced, is characterized by native gold electrum - pyrite II arsenopyrite
chalcopyrite tennantite tetrahedrite - stibiobismuthinite accompanied by siderite ankerite
quartz chalcedony adularia kaolinite smectite - illite. Two generations of pyrite have been
described, based on their morphologies: pyrite I with a spongy-type texture and present in both
mineralization stages; and polygonal pyrite II, generally intergrown with pyrite I but restricted to
the second stage (Fig. 1). In some cases pyrite I displays well-developed birds eye texture,
typical of the replacement of pyrrhotite by pyrite. Additionally, microprobe analyses (Jeol JXA8230) reveal that spongy pyrite I contains variable amounts of Mo, Se, Co, and Cu, whereas
polygonal pyrite II is characterized by concentrations of As, Ag, Te, Bi, Se, Au, Cd, Co, and Cu,
above the detection limit (Fig. 2). Furthermore, native gold occurs with native bismuth as
inclusions in arsenopyrite.

13o Simpsio de Geologia da Amaznia


Belm | 22 a 26 de setembro de 2013

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Figure 1 - Reflected light photomicrographs of typical ore assemblages at the Canahuire Au-(CuAg) deposit. A) Spongy pyrite (Py I) grain with chalcopyrite (Cp) rimmed with sphalerite (Sph)
and cut by thin veinlets of tennantite-tetrahedrite (Tn-Th). B) Intergrowth of marcasite (Mrc) and
polygonal pyrite (Py II) together with chalcopyrite (Cp) grains in the matrix. C) Arsenopyrite
(Apy) with inclusions of native gold (Au). D) Galena (Gn) in contact with intergrowth of pyrite I
(Py I) and pyrite II (Py II).

Figure 2 - A) Backscattered electron image showing the intergrowth of pyrite I (Py I) and pyrite
II (Py II). The yellow circles are the points analysed on the electron microprobe. Points 1 to 4 are
within pyrite spongy I (Py I) and points 5 to 8 are within pyrite II (Py II). Polygonal pyrite (Py
II) contains minor amounts of As Au Ag.

13o Simpsio de Geologia da Amaznia


Belm | 22 a 26 de setembro de 2013

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CARBON AND OXYGEN ISOTOPE DATA


13C and 18O data were obtained from the analyses of thirteen carbonates samples from
the Canahuire deposit. Carbonate samples included: (1) calcite and calcite - siderite veinlets in
the Gramadal Formation limestones, respectively, at distal and intermediate distances from the
ore zones and; (2) siderite replacement zones associated with the mineralization in the Canahuire
diatreme complex (Table 1). Distal limestone-hosted calcite and intermediate calcitesiderite
veinlets have relatively close 13C values that vary, respectively, from 1.31 to 1.32 and from
0.09 to 0.31. On the other hand, these veinlets differ considerably in 18O values, which in
calcite veinlets range from 16.56 to 18.91 and in siderite calcite veinlets from 6.21 to
8.59. Compared to veinlets, ore-related siderite is more depleted in 13C (-0.03 to -6.21).
In addition, siderite 18O values are much lower (4.35 to 10.93) than those of distal calcite
veinlets, but are not distinguished from 18O values of siderite calcite veinlets from
intermediate zones, except for the wider variation.

Figure 3 - 13C and 18O values of carbonates (calcite and siderite) from the Canahuire Au-(CuAg) deposit.
Table 1 - 13C and 18O values of carbonates from the Canahuire Au-(Cu-Ag) deposit.

13o Simpsio de Geologia da Amaznia


Belm | 22 a 26 de setembro de 2013

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PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS
The change in ore paragenesis from stage I, with pyrite I, pyrrhotite, arsenopyrite and
magnetite, to stage II with arsenopyrite chalcopyrite tennantite tetrahedrite stibiobismuthinite marks a hydrothermal system evolving from low to intermediate sulphidation
state fluids (see Fig. 1 in Einaudi et al. 2003).
Collectively, 13C and 18O values from calcite veinlets are comparable with marine
limestone values and may reflect fluids in equilibrium with the Gramadal Formation limestone,
under low fluid/rock ratios, in distal zones from the mineralization. The marked shift to slightly
more depleted 13C values and much lower 18O values, as observed in siderite replacement
zones towards the mineralization, suggests that the Canahuire hydrothermal system evolved
through varying degrees of interaction of the Gramadal limestone with magmatic and meteoric
fluids. This interaction may have probably promoted the change from low to intermediate
sulphidation state of the fluids and gold deposition.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research project is part of a M.Sc. dissertation under progress at the Institute of
Geosciences of the University of Campinas and with support from Gold Fields Exploration.
Special acknowledgements are due to Dr. Erika Tonetto (SEM UNICAMP), Profs. Alcides Sial
and Valderez Ferreira (NEG LABISE UFPE) and Nilson Botelho (electron microprobe
UNB).
REFERENCES
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Polymetallic Zn-Pb-Ag-Cu-Bi Mineralization at Cerro de Pasco, Peru. In: ECONOMIC
GEOLOGY, 2008. v.103, p.493537
BENEDEZ R., FONTOBT L. Cordilleran epithermal Cu-Zn-Pb-(Au-Ag) mineralization in
the Colquijirca district, central Peru: Deposit-scale mineralogical patterns. In:
ECONOMIC GEOLOGY, 2009. v.104, p.905-944.
EINAUDI M., HEDENQUIST J., INAN E. Sulfidation state of fluids in active and extinct
hydrothermal systems: transition from porphyry to epithermal environments. In:
ECONOMIC GEOLOGY SPECIAL PUBLICATION, 2003. v.10, p.285-313
SANTOS A., BAUMGARTNER R., GAIBOR A., DUSCI M., AZEVEDO F., GRADIM R.,
DUNKLEY P., DENBOER D., VALER R. 2011. Geology and mineralisation of the AuCu-Ag Canahuire epithermal deposit, Chucapaca Project, Southern Peru. In: SGA, The
Biennial SGA Conference, 11, Proceedings, Antofagasta (Chile) available on:
https://www.esga.org/index.php?id=228&tx_commerce_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=1903&tx_commerce_pi
1%5BcatUid%5D=2&cHash=03f281e3a8