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Ore Geology Reviews, 6 ( 1991 ) 391-423 391

Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam - - Printed in The Netherlands

Deformational and metamorphic processes in the formation of


mesothermal vein-hosted gold deposits - examples from the
Lachlan Fold Belt in central Victoria, Australia

S.F. Cox a, V.J. Wall b, M.A. Etheridgea and T.F. Potter¢


aResearch School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, GPO Box 4, Canberra, A. C. T. 2601, Australia
bCarpentaria Exploration Company Pry Ltd, GPO Box 1042, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia
CGeological Consultant, Blackjack Road, Harcourt, Vic. 3453, Australia
(Accepted after revision September 18, 1990 )

ABSTRACT

Cox, S.F., Wall, V.J., Etheridge, M.A. and Potter, T.F., 199 I. Deformational and metamorphic processes in the formation
of mesothermal vein-hosted gold deposits - examples from the Lachlan Fold Belt in central Victoria, Australia. In: F.M.
Yokes (Editor), Ores and Metamorphism. Ore Geol. Rev., 6: 391-423.

Gold-bearing quartz vein systems in metamorphic terranes are one of the most important types of lode gold resource.
Major vein-type Au mineralisation of this style in central Victoria is restricted to narrow, structurally-controlled domains
in a low grade metamorphosed quartz-rich turbidite sequence. Vein systems in these domains have developed in fault-
related and fold-related dilatant fractures which were generated at supralithostatic fluid pressures during regional defor-
mation and metamorphism.
The timing of mineralisation, the nature of associated hydrothermal alteration, and the isotopic and chemical compo-
sitions of the fluids point to ore genesis involving large volumes of C-O-H metamorphic fluids whose flow has been
channelised along high-permeability fault zones. The development of auriferous vein systems has been controlled by the
coincident development of structural and geochemical traps. The major structural traps are dilatant jogs on reverse faults,
extension fracture arrays adjacent to faults, and saddle reefs and related structures in fold hinges. Gold precipitation is
ascribed largely to structurally controlled mixing of secondary CH4-bearing fluids with more oxidised primary gold-beating
fluids traversing the dilational fracture systems. The CH4-bearing fluids have been produced by interaction of the primary
fluid with graphitic slates adjacent to fault zones. Cyclic fluctuations in fluid pressure and shear stress accompanying
episodes of fault motion are shown to control repeated episodes of fracture opening, fluid mixing, and mineralisation.

Introduction Western Australia (Ho and Groves, 1987),


production has also come from vein systems
Gold-bearing quartz vein systems in meta- hosted by low grade metamorphosed Palaeo-
morphic terranes are one of the most impor- zoic and younger turbidite sequences. Notable
tant classes of lode gold resource, and have examples are the vein-hosted gold deposits of
been the source of many rich alluvial deposits the Meguma Terrane in Nova Scotia (Mawer,
such as those of Alaska, California, New Zea- 1987 ), Wales (Bottrell et al., 1988; Bottrell and
land and central Victoria. Although the major Spiro, 1988), and especially those of central
gold production worldwide has come from vein Victoria in southeast Australia (Cox et al.,
systems hosted by Archaean greenstone se- 1987; Sandiford and Keays, 1986; Ramsay and
quences, such as those of the Superior and Willman, 1988 ).
Slave Provinces of Canada (Kerrich, 1986a,b, In discussing the central Victorian mesoth-
1987; Roberts, 1987 ) and the Yilgarn Block of ermal gold-quartz vein deposits it is empha-

0 ! 69-1368/91/$ 3.50 © ! 991 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. All rights reserved.
392 S.F. COX ET AL.

sised that there are broad similarities in struc- to have developed as accomodation structures
tural style, fluid chemistry, and mechanical during fold growth and tightening. Approxi-
controls on ore genesis that are shared between mately 70% shortening has been associated
these deposits and many of the greenstone- with folding and cleavage development during
hosted Archaean gold-quartz vein deposits, and regional low grade metamorphism. Major west-
indeed many mesothermal deposits in younger dipping high angle reverse faults occur
metamorphic terranes, such as those of Cali- throughout the BBZ. These structures cut
fornia (Knopf, 1929; Weir and Kerrick, 1987 ), across folds and probably form part of a linked
Alaska (Read and Meinert, 1986; Goldfarb et system of imbricates which splay off detach-
al., 1988), and New Zealand (McKeag et al., ment zones beneath the Castlemaine Super-
1989). group (Cox et al., 1983a).
The aim of this paper is firstly to outline the The eastern structural limit to the BBZ is de-
general style of the broadly syntectonic vein- fined by a narrow domain of intensely faulted
hosted mineralisation in central Victoria. We rocks known as the Heathcote Belt (Fig. 1 ).
go on to discuss the structural and geochemical Major displacement in the Heathcote Belt has
controls on ore genesis, and their relationship resulted in the BBZ overthrusting the Siluro-
to processes involved in regional deformation Devonian silicilastic sequence of the Mel-
and metamorphism. In particular we focus on bourne Zone to the east (Cox et al., 1983a;
the interaction of regional deformation, fault Fergusson et al., 1986; Gray, 1988). At the
dynamics and fluid dynamics in controlling the western margin of the BBZ, an apparently un-
development of quartz-vein-hosted gold de- fossiliferous turbiditic sequence (St Arnaud
posits in central Victoria. Beds) of probable Cambrian age (Cas and
VandenBerg, 1988) overthrusts the Castle-
Geological setting of the central Victorian gold maine Supergroup along the Avoca Fault
province (Gray, 1988 ).
Metamorphic grade in the BBZ is uniformly
The central Victorian gold province is lo- low, with assemblages in pelitic and mafic rocks
cated within a broad belt of Ordovician quartz- indicating prehnite-pumpellyite to lowest
rich flysch and slates which is known as the greenschist facies conditions during regional
Bendigo-Ballarat Zone (BBZ) (Gray, 1988). deformation.
This region forms part of the Lachlan Fold Belt The Ordovician Castlemaine Supergroup of
of southeastern Australia, and is located north- the central and eastern BBZ is intruded by Late
west of Melbourne (Fig. 1 ). The Ordovician Devonian post-tectonic granitic plutons
sequence (Castlemaine Supergroup) has a to- (Richards and Singleton, 1981 ). This factor,
tal thickness of around 2000 m (Cas and and apparent conformity between the Castle-
VandenBerg, 1988 ). Regional mid-Devonian maine Supergroup and the Siluro-Devonian
deformation has produced regular trains of up- Melbourne Zone sequences, indicates that re-
right, open to tight, and north-south trending gional deformation in this area is probably
folds (Fig. 2 ) which are usually gently plung- Middle Devonian in age. In the northwestern
ing and have wavelengths typically in the range part of the BBZ, as defined by Gray (1988),
150-500 m (Gray, 1988; Cox et al., 1991). post-tectonic granites which intrude the Cas-
Folding has been associated with the develop- tlemaine Supergroup have Lower Devonian
ment of a penetrative axial surface cleavage, ages (Richards and Singleton, 1981 ). Accord-
especially in pelitic units. Folds are cut by ingly, regional deformation in this area must
small-scale, moderately to steeply east- and be somewhat older than in the central and
west-dipping reverse faults which are inferred eastern parts of the BBZ. A major structural
MESOTHERMAL
VEIN-HOSTED
GOLDDEPOSITS,
LACHLAN
FOLDBELT,CENTRAL
VICTORIA 393

Silurla-n
LOWerDevonian [~ OI ,_~ O1~lOm~
Middle OrdovJoan~ CASTLE~IA
IN
I Es.uPERGROUP ~ Tarnagul Bandl (
Lower Ordovic,an [ ~

Cambrian ~ HEATHCOTEBE~] OI I Dunolly


Cambrian ~ ST ARNAUDBE~D$
gr a nitic p,utons ~ Maryboro;g
Upper Devonian ~'~ ~ ~
granitic plutons
OI

s.++ Lauriston I
,,:+:<+ IC,u.es
I Daylesford
OI
I Blackwood
• | +'- 01~
Ballarat • ~ ~-"÷÷"*" J

major reverse fault k


west Vl
ScarsdaleBallarat\÷+'++lEast~-~J* ao~
t
Eger'°"

fault ~ ~,' OI I Berringa


major goldfields I

0t 30 km
j

Fig. 1. Generalisedbedrockgeologyof the Bendigo-BallaratZone of centralVictoriashowingthe distributionof the major


goldfields (modified afterThomas et al., 1976 and Gray, 1988).

discontinuity probably separates regions of its derived from them have yielded in excess of
differing structural history (Cox et al., 1991 ). 2000 tonnes of gold (Bowen and Whiting,
1976; Ramsay and Willman, 1988 ). Although
Gold mineralisation in the Bendigo-Ballarat the bulk of the early production in the 1850's
Zone - Background and 1860's was from alluvial deposits, later
production has been largely from vein deposits.
Primary mesothermal gold mineralisation in Primary gold mineralisation is confined to a
central Victoria is hosted by quartz vein sys- number of discrete goldfields which are elon-
tems and host rocks immediately adjacent to gate north-south, parallel to the regional fold
them. Quartz vein systems and alluvial depos- and fault trend (Fig. 1 ). Individual goldfields
394 S.F. C O X E T AL.

WEST CHEW TON EAST


GOLDFIELD
r 1

1 km
I I
LEGEND

~/~ boundary between Chewtonian


and Castlemainlan biostratigraphic zones

fault

Fig. 2. Macroscopicstructuralgeometryin the Bendigo-BallaratZone immediatelyeast of Castlemaine. The position of


the Chewtongoldfieldis shown.

are typically separated by distances of 20-30 Structural style of the gold deposits
km, although in some areas, such as around
Ballarat and Castlemaine, several discrete General aspects
fields are developed adjacent to one another.
Even though the goldfields are elongate paral- Much of the gold mineralisation in the BBZ
lel to the regional fold and fault trend, they do is developed within structurally-controlled di-
not have a clear spatial relationship to any re- latant fractures. Fault-control of this vein-
gional structures such as major fault zones at hosted mineralisation is dominant, but in many
the presently exposed structural levels. cases fold geometry or bedding attitude has
The largest individual goldfield in the BBZ clearly influenced fault geometry.
is the Bendigo field. Within an area of 24 km 2, The major gold mineralisation occurs in
around 540,000 kg of gold has been produced quartz veins formed in, or adjacent to reverse
from vein systems, and more than 100,000 kg faults. Two broad classes of within-fault veins
of gold has been obtained from associated al- are distinguished, depending on whether or not
luvial deposits. Scattered mineralisation oc- the fault/vein system is concordant with bed-
curs over a total area of 125 km 2. In the Bal- ding (Fig. 3).
larat region, which comprises three separate Dilation of bedding-concordant, high angle
fields, 58,000 kg of gold has been produced reverse faults has produced tabular bodies of
from veins and over 500,000 kg of gold from laminated to massive quartz which are up to
associated alluvial deposits. The two major about one metre thick. Such fault-hosted quartz
goldfields in this area, Ballarat West and Bal- reefs seldom have major extension vein arrays
larat East, are up to 7 km long and only about in the hangingwall or footwall, although foot-
500 m wide. In the Castlemaine-Chewton area wall vein systems can be particularly impor-
the main zone of gold mineralisation is 8 km tant in the Bendigo field.
long and up to one kilometre wide. It has pro- Bedding-discordant faults with reverse dis-
duced over 24,000 kg of gold from vein sys- placements up to several tens of metres host
tems, but has been the source of over 100,000 some of the largest gold deposits in the BBZ.
kg of alluvial gold. Dilatant jogs on nonplanar discordant faults
MESOTHERMALVEIN-HOSTEDGOLDDEPOSITS,LACHLANFOLDBELT,CENTRALVICTORIA 395

' B / ~ the hinge zones and results in the formation of


a simple crescentic saddle in which both the
\~?'0:
\ ~. \x \x \ xx footwall and hangingwall are comformable
with bedding (Fig. 4A). Such simple saddle
reefs are present in central Victoria, however
,.0 most saddle reefs usually have more compli-
cated shapes as their genesis has involved the

D
C ~ ~ ~ ~Z I , i/,,, A
addle reefs

Fig. 3. Schematic illustration of the structural geometry


of some fault-hosted and fault-related gold-quartz lodes.
(A) Bedding-discordant reverse fault with localised dila-
tant jogs. (B) Bedding concordant fault/vein. (C) Exten- I \

sion vein arrays adjacent to discordant fault zones. (D) i!


Fault/vein of mixed discordant/concordant character, / / / / ~ neck reef
with extension veins developed only on the bedding-dis- / / "~ ~'~- saddle reef
cordant side of the fault. // /// \~ '~\

are the locus of ore-bodies which are up to // / " \ leg reef

about 10 m thick and extend hundreds of


metres along strike.
Bedding-discordant fault segments are usu-
ally associated with hangingwall and footwall
vein arrays. These extension vein systems or C
"spurs" are locally very gold rich, but tonnages
are usually low except adjacent to large faults. iI \\

I¢ ,ji ,// / 'x '*x x


The veins tend to be subhorizontal, lenticular
or wedge-shaped, bedding-discordant struc-
tures. Locally, very complex, stockwork-like
arrays are developed as accommodation struc-
tures adjacent to faults, or at zones of fault
intersection. i! iI ~ i/ ~\

Another major style of mineralisation, which


usually involves the interaction of bedding-
concordant and bedding-discordant faults
Fig. 4. Schematic illustration of the geometry and me-
around fold hinge zones, is the saddle reef chanics of formation of saddle reefs. (A) Simple crescen-
structure (Chace, 1949; Thomas, 1953a). In tic saddles formed by flexural slip and hinge dilation dur-
the "classic" saddle reefs, flexural slip during ing folding. (B) More complex saddle geometry in which
folding has localised displacement on discrete flexural slip on one fold limb gives way to the develop-
ment of a more through-going fault which breaks across
bedding surfaces or in weak slate layers on the fold hinge to form a bedding-discordant fault. (C)
steeply dipping fold limbs. Continued flexural Linking bedding-discordant and bedding-concordant fault
slip during fold tightening promotes dilation at structure propagating across folds.
396 S.F. COX ET AL.

development of bedding-discordant faults and have formed during folding, especially in its
complex extension vein arrays, as well as dila- late stages. However, a small, but significant
tion of bedding surfaces at fold hinge zones. In number of bedding-concordant veins exhibit
numerous cases one of the bedding-concor- very tight to ptygmatic folding, not only adja-
dant slip zones breaks across the fold hinge to cent to major fold hinge zones, but also on fold
form a discordant fault which displaces the ax- limbs. Their formation is interpreted to have
ial surface and hosts a dilatant zone or "neck" commenced very early during the regional de-
reef and associated vein arrays above the sad- formation history. Some of these bedding-con-
dle (Fig. 4B). Continued movement at the cordant veins can be traced continuously over
fault intersection enlarges the saddle and neck several anticlines and synclines.
reefs and locally results in complex vein ge- In the following sections, some typical ex-
ometries at fold hinges (Fig. 5). The fault amples of fault-related and vein-hosted miner-
which breaks across the fold hinge commonly alisation from the Bendigo, Ballarat, and Cas-
loses displacement within a few tens of metres tlemaine-Chewton goldfields are discussed. We
above the fold. However, these faults can also highlight the major controls on mineralisation
form part of a more pervasive fault complex in these areas. Despite overall similarities in the
which cuts across several folds and has locally style of mineralisation, it will be seen that there
bedding-parallel and bedding-discordant fault are some differences in the details of structural
segments (Fig. 4C ). styles of mineralisation between fields. We also
Many saddle reefs, together with their asso- explore in more detail factors crucial to under-
ciated bedding-concordant and bedding-dis- standing the timing of mineralisation relative
cordant fault reefs, and related extension veins to regional deformation and metamorphism.

lOm

IIIl :~ 5m D ..... ~ ~ F X~

Fig. 5. Examples of saddle reef gold-quartz vein systems, Bendigo goldfield (modified after Chace, 1949, and Thomas,
1953a). Sandstone units are stippled, quartz lodes are black.
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 397

Bendigo hinge zones (Fig. 5 ), and have associated neck


reefs which continue for up to 30 m above the
The most spectacular examples of saddle saddle (Chace, 1949). On the fold limbs, the
reefs occur in the Bendigo goldfield, where they saddles merge into bedding-concordant "leg"
host much of the gold mineralisation. Substan- reefs which are up to one metre wide adjacent
tial vein mineralisation is also present in bed- to the hinge zone. They usually thin-out over
ding-concordant fault reefs adjacent to sad- several tens of metres down the limbs. Rarely,
dles, in bedding-discordant reverse faults, and leg reefs extend for in excess of several hundred
in extension veins or stockworks associated metres down dip (Thomas, 1953a), but are
with faults and sites of fault intersection. seldom more than several tens of centimetres
The distribution of saddle reefs is controlled thick.
by the presence of regular trains of upright, es- Saddle reefs are the dominant style of mi-
sentially symmetrical to west-verging, and neralisation in the vicinity of the culmination
gently to moderately plunging chevron folds zones in each of the major anticlines in the
(Ramsay and Willman, 1988). Although the Bendigo field. Thomas (1953a) noted that
entire field covers an area of 125 km 2, the most with increasing distance down plunge, there is
productive deposits occur in six anticlinal usually a decrease in the number of saddle
hinge zones in a zone extending across strike reefs. However, eastern legs and extension
for less than 2 km, and extending parallel to veins locally have increased development
fold axes for about 12 km. Mining so far has (Whitelaw, 1914).
occurred over a vertical interval of 1400 m. The The group of mines located on the Deborah
field is located on a major regional fold culmi- Anticline are typical of many in Bendigo. At
nation zone, with all the major saddle reefs and least eight major saddles reefs and associated
associated deposits in each anticline being lo- bedding-concordant reefs have been recog-
cated either at the culmination or on the gently nised along a length of 3600 m and over a ver-
north plunging side of it (Thomas, 1953a). tical interval of 600 m (Caldwell, 1938, 1942;
At the deposit scale, structural control is Chambers, 1948, 1951; Hinde, 1988). One of
manifested by the development of saddle reefs them, the Inner Reef (Fig. 6), is continuous
and associated structures dominantly in, and for at least 1.7 km along the fold hinge zone
adjacent to the anticlinal hinge zones. Miner- (Thomas, 1948) and produced over 72560
alisation is much less commonly developed in tonnes of quartz at an average gold grade of
the synclinal hinge zones. In each of the major 30.2 g/t (Shywolup and McCarthy, 1986 ). The
gold-producing anticlines a number of verti- Inner Reef in the North Deborah Mine has a
cally stacked saddle reefs are present. Spectac- classic symmetrical saddle with no associated
ular examples include the Great Extended breakthrust. The Outer Reef and the Deborah
Hustlers Mine, in which twenty-four reefs were Reef in the Central Deborah Mine have their
intersected over a vertical interval of 630 m, west legs and east legs, respectively, cutting
and the New Chum Mine where 30 saddle reefs across the anticlinal hinge. Major mineralisa-
were present in a 700 m vertical interval tion in this group of mines is also associated
(Chace, 1949; Whiting and Bowen, 1976). In- with a bedding-discordant, west-dipping re-
dividual saddles, and their associated "leg" verse fault zone and its associated extension
reefs usually have been found to extend along vein arrays (Fig. 6 ).
strike for distances of several hundred metres, The Confidence Extended Mine also ex-
but in several examples have been mined for hibits many features typical of mineralisation
over one kilometre (Thomas, 1953a). Saddle in the Bendigo field. Much of the gold produc-
reefs can be up to several metres thick at fold tion has come from a number of thin, bedding-
398 S.F. COXET AL.

WEST surface EAST WEST EAST

/ ~ 100 m
tlt // , , i
50 rn I //~" \ , / ~ \\\ I / 1 /i ~ ,
L

,,,,,! ,,\
/I

i I 1!
I
I
/I

"',, bedding \~\ ~\

faults and ~
fault-fill veins ~\

/ \ ,' ,, ,j ,

/ \\\ ~',\ bedding

/ \ X faults and
i//1~\
/ x \ fault-fill veins

IIIII I ~ \~ ~ i 11 \
i iI \~
/ I i i i ~ \
i iI Ii 11

i/ j i ~ \

'

,'i ,',

,'/\',', Fig. 7. Transverse section of the Garden Gully Anticline


and associated gold-quartz reefs at the Confidence Ex-
Fig. 6. Transverse section of the Deborah Anticline and tended Mine, Bendigo (modified after Whitelaw, 1918 ).
its associated saddle and fault reefs in the North Deborah
Mine, Bendigo (modified after Caldwell, 1942; Cham-
bers, 1948, and Shywolup and McCarthy, 1986). is further north on the Garden Gully Anticline,
a concordant reef extends over two adjacent
concordant reefs which are continuous around anticlines, without the formation of the usual
several parasitic fold closures which occur on saddle structures such as major thickening of
the Garden Gully Anticline (Fig. 7). Some of the reef in hinge zones, or the development of
the east- and west-dipping concordant faults breakthrusts. Tight folding of this thin aurifer-
cut across anticlinal axial surfaces to form bed- ous reef at fold hinges and limbs (Dunn, 1896 )
ding-discordant fault lodes at higher levels. indicates that bedding-concordant vein for-
Major saddle reefs and related vein systems are mation has commenced locally prior to, or
developed on two such structures. Several bed- early during the growth of major folds. White-
ding-concordant reefs are present in the hinges law ( 1914) and Chace (1940) illustrate other
of small parasitic synclines, forming inverted spectacular examples of concordant reefs which
saddles. Small breakthrusts are locally devel- have been ptygmatically folded in the hinges of
oped in these. Gold mineralisation also occurs major anticlines and synclines. Folded bed-
locally on a steeply dipping fault which has a ding-concordant reefs are also present in the
major component of sinistral displacement and Deborah Anticline.
trends obliquely across the fold axial surfaces. Gold grades in saddle reefs and associated
In the Johnson's Reef Extended Mine, which bedding-concordant legs are typically irregu-
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 399

lar, though the saddles and related necks usu- In the Ballarat West goldfield, quartz lodes
ally contain the most consistently high grades are restricted mainly to a 30 m thick strati-
(Junner, 1921; Thomas, 1953a). Grades usu- graphic horizon which is rich in graphitic slates
ally decrease down the legs, although there are and is repeated over three adjacent anticlines.
numerous cases where the eastern legs, in par- The reefs are described as being in part concor-
ticular, were quite rich (Whitelaw, 1914). dant with bedding (Baragwanath, 1923 ), and
Pyritic black slates which host bedding-con- associated with the development of major an-
cordant reefs can also have extraordinarily high ticlinal saddle reefs, inverted saddles at syn-
gold grades adjacent to reefs (R. Sandner, pers. clinal hinges, and associated vein systems. The
commun., 1989). Consols lode on the eastern side of the field is
Thomas ( 1953a) has demonstrated that the located in the same stratigraphic interval, but
gold-rich shoots in saddles usually were very is a partly bedding-discordant, fault-hosted de-
much longer, parallel to fold plunge, than those posit (Allan, 1897). The lodes have their best
in the adjacent leg reefs. Although gold is usu- Au grades in fold hinges and where they are
ally irregularly distributed within reefs, gold concordant with west-dipping fold limbs. East-
can be localised near the walls of veins and dipping bedding-concordant lodes are low
particularly along slaty and carbonaceous lam- grade or barren. The laminated to massive
inae in leg and saddle reefs. The discordant ex- quartz lodes are thin on fold limbs, but in-
tension veins associated with fault reefs some- crease in thickness adjacent to the major fold
times have spectacularly high grades where hinges where up to 30 m of quartz is locally
they cut through carbonaceous slate units present. Some of the deposits have been stoped
(Thomas, 1953a). along strike for over 1.5 km and over a vertical
The Bendigo goldfield illustrates structural interval of up to 100 m from fold hinges (Bar-
controls on several scales. Firstly, the field is agwanath, 1953 ).
developed in a major regional fold culmina- The structural style of the deposits in the
tion zone. Secondly, within the field, deposits Ballarat East field is very distinct from that de-
tend to occur in, and adjacent to anticlinal veloped in the Ballarat West field (Lidgey,
hinge zones rather than uniformly across the 1894; Gregory, 1907; Baragwanath, 1953 ). The
folded sequence. Finally, within individual locus of mineralisation at Ballarat East is
saddle reef-leg reef lodes, there is a marked mostly controlled by moderately west-dipping,
tendency for gold to have the most consis- bedding-discordant reverse faults which occur
tently high grades in the high structural posi- on the steeply dipping to overturned eastern
tions. In later sections we shall explore the im- limbs of two adjacent anticlines (Fig. 8 ).These
plications of these observations for fluid faults have displacements up to 20 m. Where
migration patterns, fluid mixing, and the de- they cross fold hinges and intersect steep west-
velopment of structurally-controlled high fluid dipping limbs they become more steeply dip-
pressure regions during deformation and ping, narrower, bedding-concordant faults. The
metamorphism. overall non-planar fault geometry has been
controlled by the fold geometry.
Ballarat Auriferous lenticular quartz lodes are local-
ised along the bedding-discordant fault seg-
The Ballarat goldfield comprises three dis- ments on the east limbs of the anticlines. These
tinct sub-fields, BaUarat West, Ballarat East, less steeply dipping fault segments are dilatant
and the smaller and much less productive Ner- jogs (Fig. 9) which have opened obliquely
rena field which is located about three kilo- during bedding-parallel fault motion on the
metres northeast of Ballarat. more steeply west-dipping bedding-concor-
400 S.F. C O X E T A L .

W E uted in the fault lodes, but averaged 8.7 g/t.


Spectacularly rich shoots were c o m m o n in nar-
I /
II
I !ll
I I/I
~ I I
I I row intervals where the faults and associated
I I /11 I I

I I 1/11 Ii
extension veins intersected thin graphitic-pyr-
1111 I~
itic slate units. The gold in these areas was often
i! , very coarse and localised to within a metre or
'> I, so of the graphitic slate intersection (Barag-
wanath, 1953).
Saddle reefs are apparently not developed
where the west-dipping bedding-concordant
reverse faults intersect fold hinges. However,
R a n s o m and H u n t ( 1984 ) report the presence
of stockwork-like veins at some anticlinal
hinges where they are intersected by reverse
Fig. 8. Localisation of gold-quartz vein deposits within faults.
and adjacent to west-dipping reverse faults on the steeply
dipping to overturned eastern limbs of anticlines in the Castlemaine-Chewton
Last Chance and First Chance mines, Ballarat East. Ma-
jor slate units shown in black (after Baragwanath, 1953).
The C a s t l e m a i n e - C h e w t o n goldfields are lo-
cated approximately half-way between Ben-
dant fault segments. The lodes in the dilatant digo and Ballarat (Fig. 1 ). The most produc-
jogs, together with associated zones of exten- tive of several zones o f vein-hosted gold
sion veins adjacent to the within-fault depos- mineralisation is centred near Chewton, sev-
its, are up to 30 m wide. The reverse faults are eral kilometres east o f Castlemaine (Fig. 2).
separated by vertical intervals of 8 0 - 1 2 0 m on Gold deposits in this area occur mostly on the
the fold limbs (Baragwanath, 1953). Six of eastern limbs o f two adjacent anticlines
them are recorded in one fold limb in the N e w (Thomas, 1953b) in a zone 500 to 1000 m
N o r m a n b y Mine. wide and extending 8 km parallel to the fold
Gold grades were very irregularly distrib- axial traces. Auriferous quartz lodes are hosted

A BEDDING-DISCORDANT
FAULTSEGMENT B

FOLDEDSEDIMENTARY
I / i , ~

~ iii., l

I .OST,
Joo
;
"--kFOLDAXIALSURFACES
Fig. 9. Control on the localisation of gold-quartz vein deposits by the formation of dilatant jogs in non-planar reverse
faults. (A) Non-planar propagation of a fault across a major fold. (B) Continued movement on the fault forms a dilatant
jog.
MESOTHERMALVEIN-HOSTEDGOLDDEPOSITS,LACHLANFOLDBELT,CENTRALVICTORIA 401

by both east-dipping and west-dipping reverse quartz and deformed slate. East of the position
faults and their associated vein arrays. Al- where the fault intersects the anticlinal axial
though bedding-concordant fault/veins are surface it becomes bedding-discordant and less
abundant in the field, they are usually narrow. steeply dipping. It traverses the east-dipping
Associated saddle reef types of structures are fold limb as a very wide zone of movement in-
much less well-developed than in the Bendigo volving displacement on numerous discrete
field. shear surfaces. Major dilatancy in this area is
A major locus for gold-quartz lodes in the indicated by the spectacular development of
Chewton field is provided by west-dipping large quartz lodes and extension vein arrays
bedding-discordant faults which cut across the within, and adjacent to faults. On intersecting
east-dipping limbs of anticlines, much the same the next west-dipping fold limb to the east, the
as in the Ballarat East field. Spectacular con- fault zone again becomes a discrete, essentially
trol of fold geometry on the development of a bedding-concordant structure and rapidly de-
large dilatant jog in a west-dipping reverse fault creases in thickness,. Gross non-planarity of the
complex is illustrated in the Wattle Gully Mine fault zone as it cuts across a major fold has de-
(Fig. 10 ). In this example the fault zone has a veloped a dilatant jog which hosts about 1.4
maximum reverse displacement of 40 m and million tonnes of quartz with an average Au
extends along strike for about 700 m. West of grade of 10.5 g/t. Gold grades are quite irreg-
the anticlinal hinge displacement on the bed- ular within the jog domain, but several major
ding-concordant segment of the fault zone is gold shoots are clearly related to areas where
restricted to a 30 cm wide band of laminated
the fault zone intersects parts of the sedimen-
tary sequence which are rich in graphitic slate
EAST
WEST
units (Cox et al., in prep ). Coarse gold is often
x X% present where thin pyritic-carbonaceous slates
f/"\, are intersected by fault-fill lodes or extension
I \ \ ',
/ %
X I i veins. Interestingly, although vein quartz is
I
iI
X t
I'l ii
present in the bedding-concordant fault seg-
/ "
f
I
/
x
ment west of the anticlinal hinge, gold grades
\ x%
/
%A suddenly decrease downwards from the dila-
%
rant jog. There is a decrease in grade, but not
%
i so marked, where the jog zone passes upwards
i/
J/
it
and into the eastern bedding-concordant fault
segment.
I /
i I Several small lode systems are present in
i east-dipping reverse fault zones on the eastern
At limb of the Wattle Gully Anticline. Mutually
// t%
/
i overprinting relationships between east-dip-
,
% ///
I
iI
I ' ' 1 VI ;% ItL l ping and west-dipping reverse faults indicate
%tncc i / maior faults synchronous development during east-west
t ff
shortening. A major bedding-concordant gold-
i / aominanfly
I~ /// massive
vein quartz
quartz lode on the eastern limb of the Wattle
50 m
I
Gully Anticline is offset by the main reverse
fault zone (Fig. 10). This structure is inter-
Fig. 10. Section of the Wattle Gully Fault Zone illustrat-
ing the geometry of a dilatant jog which hosts the major preted to have been initiated by flexural slip
Au mineralisation. during fold growth.
402 S.F. COX ET AL.

Geometry and internal structures of fault- prior to the cessation of cleavage development.
related veins The moderately to steeply dipping bedding-
discordant faults exhibit a range of structures.
The geometric relationship between faults Discrete displacement zones are marked by the
and veins, and the internal structures of veins abrupt truncation and offset of wallrock struc-
provide key information that allows determi- tures and veins. Slaty cataclasites, cohesive
nation of the timing of vein formation and gold gouges, or thin zones of recemented breccia
mineralisation relative to faulting and regional may be present. These features both truncate,
deformation. These features also provide con- and are truncated by extension veins indicat-
straints on the dynamics of the stress regime, ing that faulting and vein formation were con-
the fluid pressure history during mineralisa- temporaneous. Late-stage, non-cohesive gouges
tion, and insights into relationships between truncate veins. Significant dilation of most
fluctuations in fluid pressure, cycles of fault fault zones is indicated by the presence of len-
zone failure, and mineralisation. ticular to tabular quartz lodes within them
In bedding-discordant fault/vein complexes (Fig. 11C ). This quartz is usually massive and
the intensity of quartz veining is highest within coarse-grained, but may be transected by thin,
and adjacent to the central parts of fault zones, planar domains of much finer grained rece-
and decreases rapidly away from this area. For mented quartz gouge. Weak plastic deforma-
example, in the Wattle Gully Fault Zone (Fig. tion of the coarse-grained fault zone quartz is
10 ), extension veins occur in both the footwall usually evident, though significant dynamic
and hanging-wall at distances up to about 50 recrystallisation is atypical. Thin slivers of slaty
m from the central part of the bedding-discor- cataclasite, derived from included wallrock
dant fault segment. The vein arrays generally screens, are locally present in massive fault-fill
extend away from discordant faults for dis- quartz. Isolated, angular blocks of wallrock can
tances comparable with the magnitude of total also be present (Fig. 12A). Such breccia struc-
fault displacement. The most distal veins are tures gradually merge into heavily veined wall-
typically lenticular, subhorizontal structures. rock adjacent to the fault zones. Bedding-dis-
Closer to the central parts of fault zones, veins cordant fault-fill quartz lodes can also contain
tend to become thicker and more abundant numerous thin, and sub-parallel wall-rock sliv-
(Fig. 11A). Locally, vein geometries become ers which acutely transect the lodes (Fig. 12B ).
quite complex (Fig. 11B) in response to com- These structures are commonly heavily stylol-
plex stress histories, reorientations of stress itised, and in some cases strongly deformed.
trajectories, and increased shear strain adja- Many examples are traceable discontinuously
cent to some faults (Cox et al., 1985). The from the footwall to the hanging wall of the
overall vein/fault geometry indicates forma- fault-fill quartz bodies, and are interpreted to
tion in a far-field stress regime with a subvert- be relict wall-rock screens detached during fault
ical minimum principal stress (a3), and an ap- dilation. Numerous extension veins transect
proximately east-west directed maximum parts of fault-fill lodes, but are in rum cut by
principal stress (trl). This is the same stress fault-fill quartz themselves.
field responsible for regional folding and The bedding-concordant segments of fault-
cleavage development. fill quartz lodes have some similarities with the
In many deposits the extension vein arrays bedding-discordant fault lodes, especially
cut across cleavage and can include cleaved where they widen and are composed of mas-
wallrock fragments in a relatively undeformed sive quartz adjacent to the caps of saddle reefs.
vein matrix. However, folding of some veins However, on steeply-dipping fold limbs where
does suggest vein opening locally commenced they are seldom more than a few tens of centi-
MESOTHERMALVEIN-HOSTEDGOLDDEPOSITS,LACHLANFOLDBELT,CENTRALVICTORIA 403

Fig. 11. Fault-related gold-quartz vein arrays. (A) Extension vein arrays adjacent to minor reverse fault, Wattle Gully
Mine. Width of field is 1 m. (B) Complex extension vein geometry adjacent to reverse fault, Wattle Gully Mine. Width
of field is 2 m. (C) Within-fault quartz lodes and associated extension veins, Wattle Gully Fault. Width of field is 4 m.
404 S.F. COX ET AL.

Fig. 12. (A) Angularwall-rock inclusionswithin quartz lodes, Wattle Gully Mine. Width of field is I m. (B) Wall-rock
slivers in within-faultquartz lode, Wattle Gully Mine. Width of field is 2 m.

metres thick, the bedding-concordant lodes are placement on laminated veins, the slaty lami-
usually characterised by the development of nae become heavily deformed and brecciated.
strongly laminated structures (Chace, 1949). Intense silica dissolution has resulted in the
In these, particularly where bedding-parallel development of more micaceous and graphitic
reverse displacement has been limited, numer- compositions and very irregular stylolitic
ous thin quartz (_+carbonate) laminae are shapes to the laminae margins. The vein min-
separated by thinner slate screens (Fig. 13). erals have also been dissolved against the sty-
The vein-fill minerals exhibit a variety of mi- lolitic laminae, and have locally developed in-
crostructures ranging from coarse, anhedral tense plastic deformation microstructures.
fabrics to polygonal, fibrous, or drusy grain Bedding-parallel reverse m o v e m e n t has oc-
shapes. Crustification textures are also devel- curred on, and adjacent to slaty laminae, as well
oped in some laminae. With increasing dis- as in the vein minerals where fine-grained
MESOTHERMALVEIN-HOSTEDGOLDDEPOSITS,LACHLANFOLDBELT,CENTRALVICTORIA 405

Fig. 13. Bedding-concordant quartz veins, Central Deborah Mine, Bendigo. (A) Folded, laminated quartz vein. Width
of field is 1 m. (B) Generally massive vein with a central laminated zone. Width of field is 60 cm.

recemented quartz gouges are locally present. Cox and Etheridge, 1983; Cox, 1987) in fi-
Lineations can be very strongly developed on brous to massive extension veins adjacent to
slaty laminae, and are usually perpendicular to faults, and locally in laminated and breccia
the local fold hinge, as expected for flexural slip zones of fault-fill lodes (Fig. 14). Antitaxial
lineations. crack-seal quartz veins are best developed
Significantly, within individual laminated against slate wall-rock and have fibrous to
veins a mixture of undeformed to heavily de- massive microstructures, occasionally with
formed microstructures can be found amongst well-formed inclusion bands and trails (Cox,
adjacent vein-fill and slaty laminae. This ob- 1987). The spacing of inclusion bands and
servation points to vein formation involving trails indicates vein growth increments of 20-
cyclic opening and vein accretion events sepa- 100/~m. In syntaxial veins, which are usually
rated by episodes of deformation involving best developed in sandstone host-rock, fibre
shortening normal to veins, as well as vein- boundary steps and offsets to albite twin la-
parallel slip on discrete slaty laminae or gouge mellae indicate crack-seal growth increments
zones. of a similar magnitude. The growth of typical
The strongest supporting evidence for incre- extension veins adjacent to faults has thus in-
mental vein growth is found in spectacular volved up to several thousand crack-seal accre-
crack-seal microstructures (Ramsay, 1980; tion events. Very similar crack-seal inclusion
406 S.F.COX ET AL.

Fig. 14. Crack-seal microstructures in gold-quartz extension veins adjacent to faults. (A) Crack-seal inclusion bands. (B)
Crack-seal inclusion trails.

bands in some laminated bedding-concordant of fault-fill veins, as well as in some extension


veins indicate that some quartz laminae also veins adjacent to faults, indicate a locally more
represent the product of numerous vein accre- simple accretionary vein growth history. In this
tion events of similar magnitude to those in ex- case fractures have been held open for pro-
tension veins adjacent to faults. tracted depositional episodes involving accre-
Although crack-seal veins have a widespread tion of up to about 10 cm of vein minerals, and
development, a significant number of exten- have not been reopened once sealing has been
sion veins contain zoned crustification tex- completed. The differences in vein growth
tures, comb structures, and drusy to vuggy processes and volumes of material accreted
crystal shapes which clearly have not devel- during individual fracture opening events are
oped by repeated crack-seal mechanisms. The interpreted to reflect variations in fluid pres-
open space filling textures which occur in parts sure history and the duration of mineral accre-
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 407

tion events in fractures in different parts of gold deposition has occurred over most of a
fault systems. protracted vein growth history. Gold occurs in
extension veins adjacent to faults, as well as in
Vein mineralogy and hydrothermal alteration fault-fill lodes.
Hydrothermal alteration associated with the
Vein mineral assemblages are dominated by gold-quartz lodes is usually of limited extent
quartz which usually forms over 95% of most and effect. Pyrite and arsenopyrite sporadic-
veins. Ankerite, and lesser quantities of calcite ally occur as disseminated porphyroblasts in
and dolomite can be present. Carbonates are slates and sandstones up to several tens of
particularly abundant as vein selvages, partic- metres away from major fault-hosted loads.
ularly adjacent to carbonaceous slate host rocks Gold is present usually only in very close prox-
or slate inclusions in veins. Chlorite and phen- imity to veins (i.e., within a few tens of centi-
gitic mica are accessory phases. Albite and metres), particularly in carbonaceous slates
apatite occur as rare coarse grains, and fine ru- caught-up in fault zones. Patchy and minor
tile needles are present in some veins. carbonate alteration is manifested by the de-
The major sulphide phases are arsenopyrite velopment of small ankerite poikiloblasts in
and pyrite, although minor pyrrhotite, sphal- slates near major vein systems. In bedding-dis-
erite, galena, and chalcopyrite are usually pres- cordant lodes, such as at Wattle Gully, carbon-
ent, particularly in those parts of lodes having ate poikiloblasts are usually only abundant
high gold grades. Tetrahedrite has a minor within a few metres of veins (Cox et al., in
abundance, and stibnite is present in a few de- prep). More widespread occurrence of carbon-
posits (Stillwell, 1917, 1953). Both pyrite and ate poikiloblasts in parts of the Bendigo field
arsenopyrite occur as coarse massive aggre- indicates locally more pervasive hydrothermal
gates throughout veins, but show particular fluid circulation in the sedimentary sequence
concentration at vein margins, around wall- away from fault zones.
rock inclusions, and along the slaty laminae in Microstructural overprinting relationships
laminated veins. Sulphides do not usually form between hydrothermal minerals and cleavage
more than a few percent of vein volume. in the host-rock sequence generally indicate
Much of the gold is relatively coarse and oc- that hydrothermal alteration occurred late
curs as scattered isolated grains or filaments in during regional deformation and metamor-
quartz. It also occurs in association with sul- phism. Development of short, syndeforma-
phides as inclusions and microcrack fillings. tional fringe structures on some sulphide por-
Gold is also commonly present along carbon- phyroblasts indicates that continued cleavage
aceous laminae in laminated veins and saddle development has post-dated some hydrother-
reefs. In most deposits there is a spectacular mal alteration.
association between high gold grades and
proximity of carbonaceous slates. For exam- Fluid chemistry and P-T conditions during
ple, at outcrop scale, coarse free gold is com- mineralisation
monly found in veins near where they intersect
pyritic-carbonaceous slates. At the deposit To date, there has not been widespread in-
scale, the most consistently high gold grades in vestigation of fluid chemistry associated with
discordant fault lodes usually occur near areas mineralisation in the BBZ goldfields. Primary
in which carbonaceous slates are abundant in and secondary fluid inclusions in vein quartz
the stratigraphic succession. in the Chewton goldfield (Castlemaine) are
Microstructural relationships between gold, probably typical of most of the goldfields, and
sulphides, and other vein minerals indicate that contain C - O - H fluids having a range of com-
408 S.F. COX ET AL.

positions (Cox et al., in prep). Dominant are bient low-grade metamorphic temperature of
low salinity, two-phase, water-rich inclusions the host rocks. The lack of major hydrother-
which can contain a small proportion of CO2 mal alteration indicates that the fluids were not
and/or CH4. Also present are three-phase grossly out of equilibrium with the host rocks.
H20-CO2-CH4 inclusions which have up to 20
mole % CO2. Rare two phase inclusions with Discussion
greater than 60 vol.% carbonic phase are also
present. These fluids are similar to those oc- Timing of mineralisation during the regional
curring in non-auriferous metamorphic veins structural and metamorphic history
remote from the goldfields, and are typical of
fluids found in most low grade metasedimen- The geometry and microstructures of the
tary terranes (Crawford and Hollister, 1986). fault-hosted mesothermal gold-quartz vein
Oxygen isotope compositions of vein quartz deposits we have described provide tight con-
related to mineralisation throughout the BBZ straints on the timing of mineralisation rela-
average around + 17%o,but range from + 15%o tive to the regional deformation and metamor-
to +21%o (Cox et al., 1983b; Gregory et al., phic history. Although much of the
1988; Wilson and Golding, 1988 ). mineralisation developed late during regional
Galena-sphalerite t~345 thermometry indi- deformation, some bedding-concordant veins
cates temperatures around 300-320 ° C for mi- have formed early during folding, and may
neralisation in the Wattle Gully deposit (Cox even pre-date some fold growth. The initial de-
et al., 1983b, in prep). Homogenisation tem- velopment of saddle reefs and their associated
peratures of 170-240 °C for two-phase, water- bedding-concordant fault veins is clearly re-
rich fluid inclusions from the same deposit in- lated to flexural slip during fold tightening.
dicate that for trapping temperatures around However the further development of many of
300°C, fluid pressures must have averaged these structures to produce enlarged saddles,
about 150 MPa. Under these conditions, the neck reefs and associated bedding-discordant
g~80 compositions of the fluids would have fault lodes has continued after folds have
averaged + 10%o.This is consistent with a fluid locked-up and cleavage development had
that has equilibrated with average continental ceased.
Crust. Major bedding-discordant fault lodes, such
The sulphur isotope compositions of pyrite as those of Ballarat East and the Castlemaine
and arsenopyrite in veins and hydrothermal area, cut across folds and thus also have move-
porphyroblasts immediately adjacent to gold ment histories post-dating the major part of
deposits are typically between - 3%o and + 3%o fold growth. The kinematics of the fault zones
(Cox et al., 1983b, in prep; Gulson et al., is consistent with their development accom-
1988). These values are depleted relative to modating further regional east-west shorten-
apparently diagenetic pyrite which is remote ing as folds have begun to lock-up. The struc-
from the gold deposits and has g3as composi- tures of extension vein arrays associated with
tions as heavy as +20%o (Stiiwe et al., 1988; fault lodes are consistent with the large scale
Gulson et al., 1988). timing evidence. Similarly, hydrothermal al-
Overall, the available isotopic evidence teration associated with the gold deposits
points to an externally derived fluid source for largely overprints cleavage development, but
mineralisation. The major element and iso- not completely so.
topic composition of the fluid is consistent with Overall, the kinematics and timing of fault
a broadly metamorphic origin. The tempera- and vein development indicate vein formation
ture of the fluid has been similar to the am- and gold mineralisation locally commenced
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 409

early during regional deformation, but that the influenced the location and structure of many
major development of fault-hosted deposits dilational jogs (Fig. 9 ).
occurred relatively late in the structural se- Saddle reefs and related vein deposits pro-
quence. A point to be emphasised is that gold vide another spectacular example in which fold
mineralisation has clearly occurred over a pro- structure has influenced the distribution and
tracted interval during much of the vein growth geometry of dilatant sites during mineralisa-
history, and is not a discrete event which oc- tion. In goldfields such as Bendigo, where sad-
curred at a particular stage of vein develop- dle reefs are abundant, the viscosity contrast
ment. Similarly, the formation of fault-fill veins between regularly interbedded packages of ar-
and associated extension veins has been an in- enites and pelites has been a significant factor
tegral part of the fault movement history. The promoting flexural slip and dilation at fold
vein geometries and internal structures have hinges during folding. In many examples the
been controlled by the dynamic effects of continued development of saddle reefs late in
faulting during the regional structural and the folding history has been associated with the
metamorphic history. propagation of bedding-parallel slip zones (on
steep fold limbs) across fold hinges to form
Structural controls on the geometry of the bedding-discordant faults. Reverse displace-
mesothermal gold-quartz vein deposits ment on these faults, where they refract through
hinge zones above saddles, has formed dila-
We have seen that structural controls on the tional fault bends (Sibson, 1989) which host
geometry of gold-quartz vein deposits in the "neck reefs" (Fig. 4B). Continued displace-
BBZ derive from the fact that these deposits ment on these structures may also have led to
are localised within, and formed during the de- further dilation at the saddles themselves.
velopment of a variety of fault-related and fold- Saddle reefs are continuous over large dis-
related dilational sites (Figs. 3-13 ). The stress tances along fold axes in some goldfields (e.g.,
regime during crustal shortening has pro- Bendigo), whereas in others they are poorly
moted the formation of a mesh of reverse developed or absent. Hinge dilation has been
faults, particularly during the late stages of promoted by the regular, nearly cylindrical
folding. This fault architecture has clearly con- chevron folding characteristic of the BBZ, and
trolled the fluid migration pattern by estab- by the widespread operation of flexural slip.
lishing a regime of channelised fluid flow However, an important local control on the
(Etheridge et al., 1983; Valley, 1986 ) which has development of large, continuous saddle reef
localised deposits in fracture arrays both deposits has probably been provided by the de-
within, and adjacent to fault zones, especially gree of continuity, around fold closures and
in those having relatively small displacements. along strike, of stratigraphic units which have
Fault geometry has exerted a major control localised the major flexural slip zones.
on the size and structure of within-fault vein Uniform folding mechanisms, and the per-
deposits. Planar faults are generally narrow sistence of major folds at depth in the Castle-
structures with little dilation. Typical of these maine Supergroup without major changes in
are the numerous bedding-concordant fault- profile shape, has also meant that saddle reefs
veins whose initiation has been related to flex- and their associated vein deposits have devel-
ural slip (Figs. 6 and 7). The largest within- oped over a large vertical interval in individ-
fault vein deposits are located in dilational jogs ual anticlinal hinge zones.
which link en echelon fault segments of non- We will examine in a later section the crucial
planar fault zones. We have illustrated how fold role played by local, structurally-controlled
geometry has influenced fault geometry and fluid pressure variations in promoting hinge
410 S.F. COX ET AL.

dilation predominantly in anticlines rather host-rock sequence playing a critical role in


than synclines. controlling gold precipitation.
The geometry of the usually gently-dipping A plausible scenario involves the circulation
extension vein arrays associated with fault of the primary hydrothermal fluid through the
zones and saddle reef vein deposits has been high permeability parts of fault zones, out
controlled by the predominantly subvertical through adjacent dilatant extension veins or
attitude of the minimum principal stress dur- saddle reef caps, and into the slate-sandstone
ing mineralisation. The development of locally host rocks. Fluid-rock interaction with car-
complex vein geometries has been influenced bonaceous slates results in the reaction
by factors such as bedding or cleavage orien-
2C + 2H 20 = CH4 + CO2 ( 1)
tation and high shear strains adjacent to faults.
Changes in the orientation of the stress field Increased methane content in the fluid as a
and the magnitude of stress differences associ- consequence of this reaction decreases f02, and
ated with the dynamic effects of faulting have has probably been the most important factor
also produced complex vein networks. in controlling local destabilisation of gold
We have seen that the extent of development complexes and gold precipitation, particularly
of vein arrays adjacent to fault zones is pro- at vein/wall-rock contacts, and adjacent to
foundly influenced by factors such as the mag- slate laminae or inclusions in veins. However
nitude of fault displacement, and whether or reaction 1 can have a more widespread influ-
not faults are discordant to bedding. The larg- ence on gold deposition. If the reduced, sec-
est extension vein networks are associated with ondary carbonic fluid can mix back with the
bedding-discordant fault segments in the dila- relatively more oxidised primary ore fluid
tional jog domains of non-planar faults. traversing fracture systems, then less localised
gold deposition may be achieved in zones of
Geochemical controls on the development of fluid mixing. Such a model necessarily in-
the gold-quartz vein deposits volves complex fluid circulation and mixing
patterns in and around active fault zones. We
We have presented evidence that the C - O - H discuss in a later section how the dynamics of
fluids involved in mineralisation are of broadly faulting, together with spatial and temporal
metamorphic origin. That is, their composi- variations in fluid pressure around fault zones,
tion has probably been buffered by interaction play the key role in driving fluid mixing. This
with a large volume of crust. Deposition of type of model explains the outcrop-scale and
quartz in veins is most simply interpreted as deposit-scale relationships between high gold
being due to upwards migration of hydrother- grades and the distribution of carbonaceous
mal fluid along a pressure and temperature slates, and goes a long way to explain the often
gradient (Helgeson and Lichtner, 1987). irregular geometry of gold-rich shoots.
Transient reductions in fluid pressure and
fluid-rock interaction may also play an impor- Fluid volumes during mineralisation
tant role.
Controls on gold deposition in the BBZ are Some consideration of the volume of hydro-
less clear. A usual feature of the gold deposits thermal fluids involved in gold ore genesis in
is the extreme irregularity of gold grades. De- the BBZ can be used to place constraints on a
spite this, there is a clear correlation between number of aspects of ore genesis. These in-
consistently high gold grades and proximity of clude the origin of the fluids, the possible size
veins to pyritic-carbonaceous slates. This ob- of source regions for the gold and fluids, and
servation points to fluid interaction with the the distances involved in mass transport. These
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 411

considerations also highlight the importance of by partial dehydration of a crustal slab meas-
channelised fluid flow, and are used to place uring 100 km × 100 km in area, and as little as
constraints on the bulk, time-averaged perme- one kilometre thick. Note, however, that if 1
ability of goldfields relative to adjacent crustal ppb gold is scavenged from the gold source rock
regions. (i.e. equivalent to about 50% leaching effi-
Given temperatures of mineralisation ciency for Au), the gold production of the
around 300°C at fluid pressures of about 150 province may be sourced from a zone measur-
MPa, geothermal gradients may have been as ing 100 km X 100 km and only several hundred
high as 50°C/km. However, the existence of metres thick. In this case, the required source
such high gradients within the goldfields is not volume for the gold of the Bendigo field could
supported by fairly uniform vein quartz ~180, be as low as 250 km 3 (Fig. 15). Lower Au
and uniform vein and wall-rock mineralogy leaching efficiencies will require correspond-
with increasing depth. Fluid migration up- ingly larger source regions.
wards along any reasonable geothermal gra- Given the volume of crust involved in re-
dients in fracture networks therefore is un- gional deformation and metamorphism in the
likely to result in a change in solubility of Bendigo-Ballarat Zone, the estimated mini-
quartz much greater than 0.1 wt% as the fluids mum source volumes for the hydrothermal
traverse the vertical extent of goldfields (see fluids and gold are relatively small. Even al-
also Fyfe et al., 1978; Wood and Walther, lowing that fluid/quartz ratios may have been
1986). The mass ratio of fluid to precipitated an order of magnitude higher than our mini-
quartz is thus constrained to a minimum value mum estimate, the total volume of hydrother-
of around 103. On this basis, the total quartz mal fluids can still be realistically sourced by
production of the Bendigo goldfield, for ex- metamorphic devolatilisation reactions. A
ample, requires a minimum of about 50 km 3 metamorphic fluid source is consistent with
of fluid to pass through the 24 km 2 horizontal observed 8180 compositions of vein quartz,
plan area of the main part of the field. This and only requires single pass, highly focussed
volume of fluid is comparable to the volume of fluid flow through the goldfields. Significantly,
the goldfield, and indicates a minimum inte- the inferred size of the fluid source regions is
grated fluid to rock ratio of one. Ferry ( 1986 ) less than the volumes of crust separating gold-
and Wood and Walther (1986) have argued fields, and may mean that transport distances
that in many metamorphic belts where fluid have been some tens of kilometres. However,
flow has been pervasive, minimum bulk fluid/ it is emphasised that the presently exposed
rock ratios of around one are common. Ac- structural levels of the BBZ cannot have been
cordingly, the fluid volumes that we estimate the major source of the fluids or gold. Al-
to have migrated through the goldfields during though extensive quartz dissolution and mass
gold mineralisation are not unusual, although transfer have been associated with cleavage
the flow regime has been extremely channe- development and pervasive fluid migration
lised rather than pervasive. through the region during the main stage of re-
Sourcing of the hydrothermal fluids by de- gional deformation (Stephens et al., 1979;
volatilisation reactions involving around 2 Etheridge et al., 1983), much of the gold mi-
vol% loss of H20 during metamorphism would neralisation is related to a regime of channe-
necessitate fluid source-rock volumes of 2500 lised fluid flow in fault zones that developed
km 3 or more for goldfields the size of Bendigo late during the folding and cleavage develop-
(Fig. 15 ). On this basis it is feasible for the en- ment history. These timing and structural re-
tire fluid budget for formation of the central lationships, and constraints on the fluid flow
Victorial gold province to have been generated direction imposed by quartz supersaturation in
412 S.F. COX ET AL.
10km

~ 10 km

10 km ~
FLUID MASS = 4xlOl°tonnes
BENDIGO GOLDFIELD
volume = 50km3
contains 4xl07tonnes StO2,
6xl02tonnes Au

: • ,GOLD SOURCE-ROCK
• . 250 kin3depleted
o,,000 u
i - " ..-.~:..~
~'~'~FLUID SOURCE-ROCK VOLUME = 2500 km~
2 vol.% H20 loss durin~
metamorphlsm--~ 50 km"FLUID

Fig. 15. Schematic diagram illustrating fluid flow paths and possible volumetric relationships between fluid source rocks,
gold source rocks, and gold/quartz deposits in goldfields. The calculation has been done for the Bendigo goldfield on the
basis that the minimum fluid/quartz ratio is 103 at the depositional site, and that the fluid source region releases 2 vol. %
water during metamorphism. We assume that the gold source region (which may be a component of the fluid source
region) has its gold content depleted by 1 ppb.

fault zones, point to the fluids and gold being


sourced at deeper structural levels.
~ 105
The extreme fluid focussing involved in the
formation of the BBZ and other mesothermal
vein deposits raises questions concerning the
time-averaged, fracture-controlled permeabil-
ity of goldfields, and how their permeability has
compared with that of adjacent crust during ore
genesis. Simple Darcy Law modelling for the
Bendigo goldfield (Fig. 16) indicates that for
reasonable lifetimes of hydrothermal systems
(Cathles, 1981), the time-averaged permea- o Z / lo 2

bility of the entire 50 km 3 volume of the gold-


field is constrained to lie between 10 -17 and
10-18 m 2. This value is comparable with frac- 10 3 10 4 10 5
S10 6
S10 7

ture-controlled permeabilities determined in LIFEOF HYDROTHERMALSYSTEM(YEARS)


large volumes of crystalline rocks at shallow Fig. ] 6. Bulk, time-averaged permeability calculated for
depths (Brace, 1980, 1984). Remote from the Bendigo goldfield (horizontal plan area 24 km:) as a
function of fluid/quartz ratio in vein systems, and the life
goldfields bulk permeabilities probably have
of the fluid circulation system. A permeability in the range
been as low as 10- ~9 to 10- 21 m 2. 10 - ~7 10- ]8 m 2 is indicated by hydrothermal system life-
The actual permeabilities of fault zones times of 105-106 years (shaded area). Note that shorter
within the goldfields must have been substan- lifetimes and higher fluid/quartz ratios require a higher
permeability.
tially higher than our "bulk" estimate. A rea-
sonably well-constrained estimate of mini-
mum time-averaged fault zone permeability to 700 m long, and in the bedding-concordant
can be made for the Wattle Gully Fault Zone fault segments, at least, fluid flow has been fo-
near Chewton (Fig. 10). This fault zone is up cussed within a channel width of much less
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 413

than one metre. Allowing a maximum channel Structural controls on the location of
width of 0.3 m, a total quartz tonnage of mesothermal deposits
1.4X106 tonnes, and near-lithostatic fluid
pressure gradients, then flow periods of 105- The unusually high vein abundance in gold-
106 years and fluid-quartz mass ratios of 103- fields compared with adjacent areas of the BBZ
10 4 indicate a time-averaged minimum is a clear indication that not only are goldfields
permeability in the range 10 -~4 to 10 -15 m 2. domains of abnormally high fluid pressure, but
Interestingly, this value is similar to permea- they are also zones of high permeability and
bility estimates made for a number of fault fluid flux during gold-quartz vein formation.
zones on the basis of fluid migration prior to The distribution of extension veins and hy-
earthquakes (Brace, 1980). drothermal alteration around individual faults
demonstrates that relatively high permeability
fault zones have provided the deposit-scale
The importance of high fluid pressure channeling of fluid flow. This factor, together
with the restriction of major gold mineralisa-
tion in the BBZ to discrete, north-south trend-
The observation that mineralisation is ing belts, supports a conclusion that the loca-
hosted by macroscopic extension fractures in- tion of goldfields and the pattern of fluid
dicates that supralithostatic fluid pressures migration between source regions and gold-
have been attained during fracture growth and fields was probably controlled by the large-scale
vein filling (see Cox et al., 1987, for a review). crustal fault architecture which developed dur-
The dominant subhorizontal extension vein ing regional deformation and low grade meta-
arrays which are associated with reverse faults morphism. In this respect, thin-skinned defor-
also indicate formation in a low stress differ- mation models which have been proposed for
ence regime (Etheridge, 1983) with the mini- the BBZ (Cox et al., 1983a, 1991; Fergusson et
mum principal stress (63) in a subvertical at- al., 1986; Gray, 1988) have significant impli-
titude. Repeated dilation of these cations for our understanding of the fluid mi-
subhorizontal arrays, as well as cyclic shear and gration patterns and location of potential
dilation of high angle, bedding-concordant source regions for fluids and gold. If the high-
fault/veins, and opening of steeply dipping ex- angle reverse fault zones which host Au miner-
tension veins, indicates episodic changes in the alisation form part of a linked fault system im-
orientation of the stress field, and magnitudes bricating from gently dipping major faults or
of stress differences. detachment zones at deeper crustal levels, then
The maintenance of high fluid pressures in the source regions are likely to be laterally re-
fracture networks is critically dependent on the moved to the west of, and at deeper crustal lev-
upwards flow of large volumes of hydrother- els than the goldfields.
mal fluids being throttled by an appropriate In view of the fact that none of the major
distribution of low permeability zones. The re- goldfields is apparently related to the major re-
quirement that supralithostatic fluid pressures verse faults at the presently exposed structural
be achieved and maintained for substantial levels of the BBZ, we propose that the first-or-
geological intervals necessitates local permea- der, or regional-scale fluid focussing must have
bilities of 10 -21 m 2 or less within the flow path been governed by master faults which termi-
(Brace, 1980). This requirement is one of the nate into splays underneath individual gold-
major factors contributing to deposit-scale and fields (Fig. 17 ). Where major faults breach the
regional-scale controls on the location of me- base of the hydrostatic fluid pressure regime,
sothermal gold-quartz vein deposits. fluids would rapidly drain from the metamor-
414 S.F. COX ET AL.

A A surface FLUID PRESSURE walls of bedding-concordant fault-fill reefs ad-


hydrostatic k . ~ _?~_,,
~ hydrostatic
fluid pressure :~ ' ", fluid pressure jacent to their saddles is consistent with high
reQIme : ~ _ _ °° m.,_.:,_:. . fluid pressures developing underneath these
........ -::;S_ . . . . . - _ . . .

deposits (Fig. 18 ).
,ow
permeability iii
domain The localisation of major vein deposits
, upralithostatic
a within, and adjacent to the regional culmina-
focussed )~J fluid tion zones in each of the anticlines in the Be-
fluid .///./,0 pressures hydrostatic IlthostaUc
migratlon~.o ~v dingo field is also interpreted to reflect struc-
tural control of the regional fluid migration
pattern. The large-scale folded geometry of in-
Fig. 17. (A) Schematic diagram showing how large-scale
crustal fault architecture controls fluid migration pattern. terbedded low permeability units and higher
First order localisation of near-lithostatic pressured re- permeability units has presumably served to
gimes can be controlled by major fluid focussing faults guide progressive upwards migration of fluids
terminating below low permeability crustal regimes. (B) along high permeability beds and bedding-
Variation of fluid pressure with depth along profile A-B
in (A).
concordant fault zones, not just towards anti-
clinal hinge zones (Fig. 18A), but also up
plunging fold hinges towards the anticlinal cul-
phic pile, without significant circulation mination zones (Fig. 19). These sites thus be-
through hydrofracture networks and conse- come the regions of highest fluid flux, and thus
quent reaction with wallrocks. This partly may have the greatest capacity to develop and
explain why major goldfields are not located maintain the supralithostatic fluid pressures
on the first-order faults in the BBZ. required for vein formation.
At the deposit scale, the location of the low Hydrothermal self-sealing of fracture
permeability domains required for the devel- permeability is potentially more important
opment of supralithostatic fluid pressures has than the presence of low permeability strati-
been either stratigraphically controlled or else graphic cap zones in controlling the develop-
related to localised hydrothermal sealing within ment of high fluid pressure domains. This may
fault zones. In the Bendigo field, for example, be particularly so in the many bedding-discor-
the development of saddle reefs and other fault- dant fault-hosted lodes. As fluids migrate up
related veins around anticlinal hinge zones re- through highly fractured fault zones, mineral
flects a clear stratigraphic and structural con- deposition progressively destroys fracture
trol over the development of supralithostatic permeability and results in a gradual build-up
fluid pressure domains (Cox et al., 1987). The of fluid pressure below the lowest permeability
upwards migration of ore fluids which have fault segments, provided a sufficiently high
traversed fault zones and percolated out into fluid supply rate is maintained (Fig. 20 ). This
the host-rock sequence is interpreted have been process locally establishes relatively high fluid
impeded in the highest structural positions be- pressure gradients which promote increased
low low permeability stratigraphic units, lo- deposition of phases such as quartz which have
cally allowing supralithostatic fluid pressures a positive pressure dependence of solubility
to be attained, and growth of hydraulic frac- (Helgeson and Lichtner, 1987 ).
tures to occur. Widespread, but weak hydro- The maximum vertical extent of suprali-
thermal alteration around some of the saddle thostatic fluid pressure domains below such
reefs and associated deposits is consistent with sealed or "valved" segments of fault zones is
a pattern of dispersed fluid flow beneath and controlled by the absolute fluid pressure at the
above saddle reefs (Fig. 18 ). The common de- top of each supralithostatic zone, and the fluid
velopment of extension veins only on the foot- pressure gradient beneath the valves. The
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 415

A A FLUID PRESSURE

,,
,,"tk',, ,,
,,,, ,,
!
IlthostaUc
pressure
~,- ,,, ~t~ ,',4,(, ',

/ iX

"B

[] supralithostatic fluid pressure


domains

Fig. 18. (A) Schematic fluid circulation pattern around saddle reefs and related fault-hosted deposits. Supralithostatic
fluid pressures develop transiently in the stippled regions when fluid supply rate from fault feeder zones locally exceeds
the rate at which fluid escapes from these areas by infiltration of low permeability wall-rocks. (B) Variation of fluid
pressure with depth along profile A-B. Growth of hydraulic fractures takes place in regions of supralithostatic fluid pres-
sure (stippled).

where a3 is the m i n i m u m principal stress, and


T is the tensile failure strength. The value of T
is unlikely to be more than several megapas-
cals (Sibson, 1981a, 1989; Etheridge, 1983).
The fluid pressure gradient below the valve is
controlled by the balance between the fluid
supply rate from lower levels of the fault zone,
and the fluid loss rate from the pressure-seal
chamber through the valve zone and by wall-
rock infiltration. For upwards fluid flow to
continue, suprahydrostatic gradients must be
Fig. 19. Schematic illustration showing how large-scale
fluid migration patterns and the development of suprali- maintained. Importantly, if subhydrostatic
thostatic fluid pressure regimes at Bendigo have been gradients do develop, for example by de-
controlled by the location of major culmination zones on creased fluid supply rate and stress-controlled
anticlines. Major vein deposits are most abundant at, or dilatancy below the valve zone, the fluids can
adjacent to the culmination zones.
be drawn downwards through the fault zone.
For a case in which fluid pressure gradients
m a x i m u m attainable fluid pressure (Pf) at the
slightly higher than hydrostatic gradients exist
top of a supralithostatic zone is limited by the
in the highly fractured zones below valved fault
continued opening o f macroscopic hydraulic
segments (Fig. 20), fluid pressures would drop
extension fractures. Their formation is gov-
back to sublithostatic values within several
erned by the hydraulic fracture criterion,
hundred metres below valves. At structurally
Pf =a3 + T (2) lower levels, positive effective confining pres-
sures will tend to close fracture porosity, and
416 S.F. COX ET A L

A 8
FLUID PRESSURE
A "-

,PERMdE,; . . . . .

f! Low PERM_
AS,UT¥ I

Fig. 20. Styleof fluid pressure variation in a fault zone alongwhichfluid flow is channelisedduringgold mineralisation.
(A) Generalisedfault zone with regions of transiently high fracture-controlledpermeabilityand localised zones with
transiently low permeabilitydue to hydrothermalsealingof fracturesand pores. (B) Fluid pressure profile along A-B.
Note how a broadly lithostatic profile is made up of transient segmentswhich have a hydrostaticto suprahydrostatic
pressuregradient (in high permeabilityzones) and segmentsin verylow permeabilityareaswhichhave muchhigherfluid
pressure gradients.

promote the formation of another low perme- of fault zones need to have a substantial degree
ability valved fault segment. Where a3 is sub- of continuity along the entire fault length for
vertical, hydrofracture propagation in the su- supralithostatic fluid pressures to be attained.
pralithostatic domain will tend to be in the Otherwise fluids will migrate along faults and
horizontal plane, and so is unlikely to lead to rapidly leak to higher levels, causing fluid pres-
breaching of the pressure-seal zone in a high- sures to drop back towards hydrostatic values.
angle reverse fault. This is certain to have been a critical factor
We thus expect that fault zones which are which has restricted the localisation of vein de-
channeling the flow of upwards migrating fluids posits to relatively small, discontinuous faults.
will develop a series of transient pressure-seal
zones, or valve zones. These low permeability The role of fault dynamics and fluid dynamics
regions will have high fluid pressure gradients in controlling mineralisation
across them, and will separate much higher
permeability fault segments. Near-lithostatic Hydrothermal self-sealing of active fault
fluid pressures can be maintained down fault zones can substantially influence fault me-
zones by the alternation of slightly suprahy- chanics and lead to episodes of fault failure
drostatic gradients in the supralithostatic pres- being accompanied by major fluctuations in
sured chambers between each of the pressure- fluid pressure due to episodic breaching of
seal zones, and much steeper gradients across pressure-seal zones. This process has been
the low permeability, but "'leaky" seals (Fig. termed fault-valve behaviour (Sibson, 1981 b;
20). Sibson et al., 1988 ).
The low-permeability pressure-seal regions In the BBZ, cyclic fluid-pressure valving by
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 417

faults has played an important role in control- A

ling the mineralisation process. We demon-


strated earlier how fault and vein geometries
==
and their internal structures provide clear evi-
dence of repeated fluctuations in fluid pres-
sure and shear stress, together with changes in
the orientation of the m i n i m u m principal stress f
during mineralisation. Also we have shown that time
episodes of fracture dilation and vein growth t2

have been separated by intervals of fault slip.


B
Arguably, vein growth and geometry must have
G3+T
been controlled by cyclic fluctuations in fluid
pressure which are related to fault failure cycles
d3
and accompanying changes in shear stress.
Fault failure influences the mineralisation "D

process in two significant ways. Firstly, it leads


to partial or complete relief of shear stress
I
(Sibson, 1989), and secondly, failure and dis- I
time
ruption of valve zones can result in rapid dis- t1 t2

charge of hydrothermal fluids up through fault Fig. 21. Simplified model of changes in shear stress with
zones. This leads to a major fluid pressure re- time (A) and fluid pressure with time (B) in an active
duction (Fig. 21) which is even further en- fault zone exhibitingfault-valvetype behaviour. Growth
of hydraulic extension fractures commences at tl when
hanced locally by the opening of dilatant fault fluid pressure reaches tr3+ T. Failure of the fault zone and
jogs during slip events. However, these effects loss of fluid pressure occurs at t2.
are transient. Continued fluid migration, min-
eral deposition, and the influence of positive gins to form. Propagation of hydrofractures is
effective confining pressures serve to re-estab- achieved by slightly lower driving pressures
lish valve zones and facilitate the generation of than required for fracture nucleation, and re-
new supralithostatic fluid pressure domains sults in a small decay in fluid pressure until a
beneath them after successive fault failure steady state is attained (Fig. 21B). In a Mohr
events. diagram this post-failure fluid pressure evolu-
We now examine in more detail the se- tion is indicated by m o v e m e n t of the effective
quence of events and mechanics involved in stress circle to the left with increasing fluid
fault-valve behaviour. The process has impor- pressure (Fig. 22A). At low stress differences,
tant implications for the history of fracture the hydrofracture arrays form adjacent to faults
opening, fluid migration patterns around fault when the m i n i m u m principal effective stress
zones, and the controls on gold deposition. contacts the failure envelope at T. The small
Following fault failure, continued migration decrease in fluid pressure during fracture
of quartz-saturated fluids up fault zones re- propagation moves the stress circle slightly to
quires that fluid supply rates at deeper levels the right of the failure envelope (Fig. 22B).
in the fault system are sufficient to maintain Hydrofracture orientations at this stage are
suprahydrostatic fluid pressure gradients. In controlled by the local stress regime. If shear
this case, as valve zones re-form, fluid pressure stress was not completely relieved by failure,
below them steadily increases until suprali- or if post-failure shear stress recovery was rapid
thostatic pressures are again attained and a relative to build-up of fluid pressure, then hy-
network of hydraulic extension fractures be- drofractures will be dominantly subhorizontal
418 S.F. COX ET AL.

SHEAR
STRESS,
T

! I
!
111
i
!! I 1 b a

-T 0 1' EFFECTIVE
NORMAL STRESS, ON 1%

SHEAR ~.~t,X.~ /
STRESS, \~/~.~//

t
Ol I = O"1 - Pf

0"3- P,
ii//'/~
f r2q .
-T EFFECTIVE
NORMAL STRESS , GiN

Fig. 22. Mohr diagrams illustrating progressive changes in effective stress states during a fault-valve cycle. Failure envel-
opes for intact wall-rocks and the fault zone are shown. The inset shows fault geometry relative to principal stress orien-
tations, al is the maximum principal stress, a3 is the minimum principal stress, and Pf is the fluid pressure. (A) Initial
increases in fluid pressure at low stress differences decrease effective stresses (stages a to b), and ultimately result in
hydraulic extension failure of the wall-rock (stage c) when the effective stress circle contacts the failure envelope for intact
wall rock at minus T. T is the effective tensile strength of the wall-rock. (B) Further increases in stress difference gradually
increase the shear stress (Zd to Ze) on the fault plane until shear failure occurs (stage e). Failure is followed by partial loss
of fluid pressure, and partial to complete relief of shaer stress (stage J0.

in response to the usual near-vertical attitude fluid pressure gradient across it (Fig. 23A ).
of ~r3. Importantly, propagation of fractures in Continued build-up of shear stress in the su-
this orientation will not disrupt fault-valve pralithostatic fluid pressure fault segments
zones. eventually promotes shear failure along the
The widespread recognition of dilatant, high- fault zone (Fig. 22B, stage e). The cycle of fluid
angle reverse fault segments and irregularly pressure and shear stress fluctuation is re-
oriented extension veins indicates that some peated for as long as the fluid supply is
fault failure episodes must have resulted in maintained.
complete relief of shear stress, and that fluid Episodic fault-valve behaviour explains the
pressures have sometimes accumulated more mutually overprinting relationships between
rapidly than increases in shear stress. within-fault veins and adjacent subhorizontal
A significant point is that during this stage veins, and also explains why episodic dilation
fluid migration remains an active process. of faults and associated veins has been sepa-
Fluids continue to migrate up through the fault rated by intervals of fault slip. If individual
zone and infiltrate and react with the wallrocks crack-seal vein growth increments correspond
below the fault-valve zone. They also continue to fault-valve cycles, as seems likely, then typ-
to leak through the low permeability valve zone ical fault/vein systems necessarily involve up
at a rate controlled by its permeability and the to several thousand cycles of shear failure. In
MESOTHERMAL VEIN-HOSTED GOLD DEPOSITS, LACHLAN FOLD BELT, CENTRAL VICTORIA 419

A B

jf~3 ~/~///~/4 breachedfault


///~//lowfault
permeability valve
valve

~/// shearfailure

(31

~/~fluidmigration
Fig. 23. Schematic illustration of fluid migration pattern within, and around, a reverse fault with a dilatant jog. (A) Initial
increase in fluid pressure promotes migration of primary H20-rich fluid through the fault zone and out into the wall-rocks
where fluid-rock interactions produce reduced carbonic fluids. At high fluid pressures macroscopic extension fracture
arrays open up (inset) when Pr reaches (a3+ T) at time t~ (see Fig. 21 ). (B) Upon fault failure (time t2 in Fig. 21 ), the
fault valve zone is breached and the dilatant jog zone opens. This results in rapid rupture arrest, loss of fluid pressure in
the fault zone and collapse of extension fracture arrays. Migration of reduced carbonic fluids back into the transiently low
pressure fault zone (especially at dilatant jogs) causes mixing with the primary more oxidised ore fluid and destabilisation
of gold complexes.

the case o f the Wattle Gully Fault Zone (Fig. tendant upon failure causes the CH4-bearing
10 ), where the total slip has a m a x i m u m value fluids, which formed in the wallrocks at su-
of about 40 m, the incremental displacement pralithostatic pressures in the pre-failure stage,
at each failure episode has probably averaged to migrate back into the transiently lower pres-
no more than a few centimetres. Such fault slip sure fault zone (Fig. 23B). The effect will be
events would correspond to microearthquakes especially important in dilatant fault jog zones
o f magnitude 2 to 3 (Sibson, 1989). where post-failure fluid pressure reductions will
Quartz solubility relationships indicate a be greatest. This influx o f fluids causes effi-
m i n i m u m total fluid flux through the Wattle cient mixing of reduced, CH4-bearing fluids
Gully Fault Zone of around one to two cubic with more oxidised auriferous fluids travers-
kilometres. This corresponds to an average flux ing the fault zone. This is probably the major
o f 10 6 m 3 of fluid during each fault-valve cycle. factor promoting gold deposition.
This is equivalent to the entire volume of the
fault process zone in the region o f the dilatant Conclusions
jog, and at least two orders of magnitude larger
than the reasonable hydrofracture dilatancy in Fault zone hosted gold-quartz vein deposits
this area prior to individual slip events. in central Victoria have formed during fault
One of the most significant aspects of fault- activity which was broadly synchronous with,
valve behaviour is the effect it has on fluid dy- but mostly late during regional deformation
namics and mixing during mineralisation. This and low grade m e t a m o r p h i s m of an Ordovi-
is particularly so in the immediate post-failure cian quartz-rich flysch host sequence. We con-
stage. The abrupt decrease in fluid pressure at- sider that the crustal scale fault architecture,
420 S.F. COX ET AL.

which developed during regional deformation, role in controlling the mineralisation process.
has controlled the fluid migration pattern dur- Fluctuations in fluid pressure, and consequent
ing metamorphism and progressive dehydra- episodic development of hydrofracture dila-
tion at deeper crustal levels by focussing fluid tancy which hosts the gold lodes, has been reg-
migration within narrow domains in the over- ulated by cyclic fault-valve behaviour. Supral-
lying Ordovician sequence. ithostatic fluid pressures have been generated
Migration of fluids up through fault zones below transient, low permeability, or "valved"
has been impeded by a variety of low permea- segments of otherwise high permeability fault
bility structural and stratigraphic traps which zones. Episodic shear failure in these high fluid
have led to local and transient development of pressure segments has caused repeated breach-
supralithostatic fluid pressures. Fault-related ing of the valve zones. The resulting rapid de-
hydrofracture dilatancy in these sites hosts the crease in fluid pressure, particularly in the more
gold-quartz vein deposits. The geometry of dilatant areas such as jogs and saddle reefs, has
deposits has been controlled principally by been a major factor driving reacted, second-
fault and fold geometry and the stress regime ary, CHa-bearing fluids back from the host-rock
during macroscopic fracture growth. Major sequence and into fault zones to mix with the
gold deposits are localised in dilatant jogs in primary fluids traversing the fault zones.
high-angle reverse faults, in fault-modified We emphasise the point that the geometry
saddle reef structures, and in extension vein and dynamics of active fault zones have played
networks related to these. the central roles in channeling flow of aurifer-
The ore fluids are C-O-H fluids with com- ous fluids, and in controlling the fluid pressure
positions similar to those found in many low history, fracture growth, fluid dynamics, and
grade metamorphic terranes. Mass balance fluid mixing. This has governed the coinci-
considerations, together with isotopic and tim- dence of structural and geochemical traps nec-
ing constraints are consistent with the re- essary for the formation of mesothermal vein-
quired large volumes of fluids being sourced by hosted gold deposits in the Bendigo-Ballarat
metamorphic devolatilisation reactions in Zone of the Lachlan Fold Belt.
crustal regions at deeper levels than the Or-
Acknowledgements
dovician sequence.
A variety of processes has controlled min- This work was initiated with the support of
eral deposition during single-pass fluid flow CRA Exploration (Aust.). The authors wish to
through active fault zones. Deposition of thank Neil Norris (Newmont Australia) and
quartz has been influenced largely by flow of Dick Sandner (Bendigo Mining N.L.) for ac-
fluids through temperature and pressure gra- cess to mines, and for their support and con-
dients during their rise through fault zones. structive discussions. The work has been
Transient fluid pressure reductions associated greatly stimulated by discussions with Rick
with fault slip events, together with fluid-rock Sibson and Clive Willman. Bruce Hobbs is
interactions which result in decreased water thanked for a review. S.F. Cox acknowledges
activity, are also likely to be significant factors. the generous support of the EUG-V Commit-
Deposition of gold has been promoted by stra- tee and SGA which allowed presentation of this
tigraphically and structurally controlled fluid- paper at the Strasbourg meeting.
rock interactions. These have generated C n a -
bearing fluids which have mixed back with the References
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