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Title: The nature and origin of gold mineralization at Damang mine, Ghana
Author: White, Alistair J. R.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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The Palaeoproterozoic Birimian terrane of the West African Man Shield is a gold province of global importance. Gold mineralization at the Damang deposit, however, is unique amongst known gold deposits in Ghana. It comprises a stratigraphically controlled auriferous quartz-pebble conglomerate, which is overprinted by later orogenic gold contained in a sub-horizontal fault-fracture quartz vein array. Furthermore, this gold mineralization is hosted in sediments of the Tarkwaian System, rather than volcanics of the underlying Birimian Supergroup. This thesis integrates petrological, geochemical, thermodynamic and geochronological data to investigate the Damang deposit in the context of the regional tectonic and metallogenic framework. Staurolite-grade, amphibolite facies peak metamorphism at Damang occurred at around 595ºC and 5.5 kbar at 2005±26 Ma. This was immediately followed by a short period (~ 5 Ma) of rapid exhumation, at a rate of approximately 2.6 mm/yr. This decompression led to the formation of the fault-fracture mesh, which was enhanced by the silicification of host rocks during an earlier ‘Pink Haematite’ hydrothermal event that was associated with the intrusion of voluminous dolerite bodies. Orogenic gold mineralization occurred at the end of this exhumation period at conditions of 400–450ºC and 1–2 kbar. These conditions are in broad agreement with other Ghanaian deposits. A gold-bearing, CO₂-rich (X(CO₂) ~ 0.7), aqueous fluid generated through metamorphic devolatilization reactions close to peak metamorphism and during the subsequent exhumation fed the fault-fracture mesh. This fluid imparted a potassic–carbonation–sulphidation alteration overprint similar to that seen at orogenic gold deposits globally. This alteration signature is characterized and identified with portable infrared spectroscopic techniques. Exhumation rates following gold mineralization were less than 0.01 mm/yr, while 40Ar/39Ar dating of biotites give ages ranging between 1978.8±6.2 Ma and 1898±11 Ma, indicating extremely prolonged (~ 80 Ma) cooling through the interval 300–250ºC. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that the Damang deposit is part of the same regional metallogenic event that formed the other Ghanaian deposits. This implies that the Tarkwaian System elsewhere in Ghana may be prospective for orogenic gold mineralization.
Supervisor: Waters, David J. ; Robb, Laurence J. ; Baltis, Ed J. Sponsor: Gold Fields Exploration
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Earth sciences ; Geochemistry ; Petrology ; gold ; Ghana ; thermodynamics ; geochronology ; petrology