The petrology, geochemistry and classification of the Bien Venue massive sulphide deposit, Barberton mountain land.
Murphy, Philip William.
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The Bien Venue massive sulphide deposit is associated with a felsic volcanic succession developed in the north-eastern part of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, Eastern Transvaal. The deposit is situated 8km east-north-east of Louw's Creek between the Lily Syncline to the south and the Stentor Pluton to the north. The stratigraphy of the Onverwacht, Fig Tree and Moodies Groups in the vicinity of the deposit is poorly documented, and the exact stratigraphic position of the host felsic volcanics is not known. They are tentatively correlated with the felsic volcanics from the Theespruit Formation, Onverwacht Group. The felsic volcanics have undergone low-grade greenschist facies metamorphism and occur as quartz-sericite schists. Detailed petrography enables sub-division of the volcanic succession into distinct units. A lapilli metatuff unit hosts the base metal and precious metal mineralisation. The sulphides are best developed in the upper part of this unit, together with intercalated barite-rich horizons and cherts. A series of structural events have modified the attitude of the lithological units and disrupted the continuity of the orebody. The orebody comprises stratabound lenses of massive to semi-massive and often banded sulphides, as well as disseminated sulphide mineralisation. The dominant base metal mineralogy consists of pyrite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, galena and tennantite. Native silver and various copper-silver sulphides are also associated with the base metal sulphides. A vertical zonation of the mineralisation exists, from pyrite-chalcopyrite-rich ore in the footwall, to pyrite - chalcopyrite-sphalerite-galena-barite-rich ore towards the hanging wall. Geochemical studies indicate that the Bien Venue lithologies are rhyolitic to rhyodacitic in composition and show a calc-alkaline affinity. The mobility of some elements at Bien Venue has been clearly demonstrated. This is believed to be associated with hydrothermal alteration that has led to SiO2 and MgO enrichment, as well as K2O depletion, in the wall rocks of the deposit. The geological setting and nature of the mineralisation at Bien Venue suggest that it is an example of a volcanogenic exhalative sulphide deposit. In terms of the classification scheme suggested by Hutchinson (1973, 1980), Bien Venue would best be described as a Primitive type deposit that contains barite.