Zinkgruvan, a major stratiform Zn-Pb-Ag deposit in the Paleoproterozoic Bergslagen region, south-central Sweden, was overprinted by polyphase ductile deformation and high-grade metamorphism (including partial melting of the host succession) during the 1.9-1.8 Ga Svecokarelian orogeny. This complex history of post-ore modification has made classification of the deposit difficult. General consensus exists on a syngenetic-exhalative origin, yet the deposit has been variably classified as a volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit, a sediment-hosted Zn (SEDEX) deposit, and a Broken Hill-type (BHT) deposit. Since 2010, stratabound, cobaltiferous and nickeliferous Cu ore, comprising schlieren and impregnations of Cu, Co and Ni sulfide minerals in dolomitic marble, is mined from the stratigraphic footwall to the stratiform Zn-Pb-Ag ore. This ore type has not been fully integrated into any of the existing genetic models. Based on a combination of 1) widespread hematite-staining and oxidizing conditions (Fe2O3>FeO) in the stratigraphic footwall, 2) presence of graphite and reducing conditions (Fe2O3<FeO) in the ore horizon and hangingwall and 3) intense K-feldspar alteration and lack of feldspar-destructive alteration in the stratigraphic footwall, we suggest that both the stratiform Zn-Pb-Ag and the dolomite-hosted Cu ore can be attributed to the ascent and discharge of an oxidized, saline brine at near neutral pH. Interaction of this brine with organic matter below the seafloor, especially within limestone, formed stratabound, disseminated Cu ore, and exhalation of the brine into a reduced environment on the sea floor produced a brine pool from which the regionally extensive (> 5 km) Zn-Pb-Ag ore was precipitated.
Both ore types are characterized by significant spread in δ34S, with the sulphur in the Cu ore and associate marble-hosted Zn mineralization on average being somewhat heavier (δ34S = -4.7 to +10.5 ‰, average 3.9 ‰) than that in the stratiform Zn-Pb-Ag ore (δ34S = -6 to +17 ‰, average 2.0 ‰). The ranges in δ34S are significantly larger than those observed in syn-volcanic massive sulphide deposits in Bergslagen, for which simple magmatic/volcanic sulphur sources have been invoked. Mixing of magmatic-volcanic sulfur leached from underlying volcanic rocks and sulfur sourced from abiotic or bacterial sulfate reduction in a mixing zone at the seafloor could explain the range observed at Zinkgruvan.
A distinct discontinuity in the stratigraphy, at which key stratigraphic units stop abruptly, is interpreted as a syn-sedimentary fault. Metal zonation in the stratiform ore (decreasing Zn/Pb from distal to proximal) and the spatial distribution of Cu mineralization in underlying dolomitic marble suggest that this fault was a major feeder to the mineralization. Our interpretation of ore-forming fluid composition and a dominant redox trap rather than a pH and/or temperature trap differs from most VMS models, with Selwyn-type SEDEX models, and most BHT models. Zinkgruvan has similarities to both McArthur-type SEDEX deposits and sediment-hosted Cu deposits in terms of the inferred ore fluid chemistry, yet the basinal setting has more similarities to BHT and felsic-bimodal VMS districts. We speculate that besides an oxidized footwall stratigraphy, regionally extensive banded iron formations and limestone horizons in the Bergslagen stratigraphy may have aided in buffering ore-forming brines to oxidized, near-neutral conditions. In terms of fluid chemistry, Zinkgruvan could comprise one of the oldest known manifestations of Zn and Cu ore-forming systems involving oxidized near-neutral brines following oxygenation of the Earth’s atmosphere.
2016. Vol. 82, 285-308 p.