Sulfur isotope and fluid inclusion geochemistry of metamorphic Cu–Au vein deposits, central Cobar area, NSW, Australia
Vein-type, structurally controlled Cu–Au mineralisation hosted by turbidites of late Silurian to earliest Devonian age, forms an important resource close to the eastern margin of the Cobar Basin. Here we report 103 new sulfur isotope analyses, together with homogenisation temperatures and salinity data for 545 primary two-phase fluid inclusions for the mineralised zones from the central area of the Cobar mining district. A range in δ34S values from 3.8 to 11.2‰ (average 7.9‰) is present. Sulfur is likely to have been derived from rock sulfur/sulfide in basin and basement rocks, but there may be an additional connate-derived component. Homogenisation temperatures (Th) for inclusion fluids trapped in quartz and minor calcite veins range from near 150°C to 397°C. Fluid inclusions are characterised by a low CO2 content and low, but variable salinities (2.1–9.1 wt% NaCl equivalent). Generations of inclusion fluids correspond to six paragenetic stages of vein quartz deposition and recrystallisation at the Chesney mine. Primary fluid inclusions in the first two stages were subjected to re-equilibration resulting from increased confining pressure. Their Th range (151–317°C) is considered a minimum for the temperature of these fluids. Sulfide and gold deposition at Chesney appears to be related to fluids of moderately high Th (range 270–397°C) associated with the final paragenetic stage. Th for the ore-related fluids may be close to the solvus of the H2O–NaCl–CO2 system and hence near trapping temperatures. Late-stage entry of a hot, moderately saline ore-forming fluid is implicated as the origin of the Cu–Au mineralisation. However, comparison with geochemical data for the vein-style Zn–Pb–Ag deposits at Cobar demonstrates that differences in metal content for individual zones cannot be attributed to major differences in fluid temperature or salinity. Rather, these differences are probably due to variations in source-rock reservoirs and structural pathways along which the ore-forming fluids moved.