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The Sorby Hills, W.A., Lead-Silver-Zinc Province


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Author Rowley M and Lee RJ


A significant basemetal province is recognised in the southern part of the Bonaparte Basin, Western Australia. Epigenetic stratabound carbonate hosted Pb-Ag-Zn mineral- isation occurs in dolomites of Tournasian age within a marginal marine transgressive carbonate and fine grained clastic sequence, spatially overlying the lagoonal facies of a Late Devonian reef complex. The deposits comprise coarse grained sulphide mineralisation characterised by high Pb:Zn ratios (10:1) and high silver (50 g/t) content. They occur at shallow depth, are flat to moderately dipping, and form a discontinuous mineralised trend at the margin of the Sorby Platform, which flanks a Precambrian basement high. Host rocks are predominantly sedimentary breccias and dolomitised footwall carbonates associated with a significant local unconformity transgressed by a siltstone cap rock sequence. The deposits are structurally related to synsedimentary growth faults, local basement highs and tensional en-echelon breccia systems. Fluid inclusion studies have concluded that mineralisation was deposited from a low temperature (85°C-115°C) saline ore forming solution. Lead isotope work reveals a Precambrian genetic source of the lead. Locally remnant textures after sulphates are recognised within the host sequence together with common bitumen and oil shows. Reduction of sulphate to H2S was possibly facilitated by either bacteria. activity, or by residual hydrocarbons which acted as a reducing agent. An alternative source of H2S may have been afforded by the thermal degradation of hydrocarbons. A ‘mixing’ genetic model is proposed for the mineralisation, which conceives the expulsion of metal enriched basinal brines followed by their precipitation as sulphides after mixing with locally derived reduced sulphur solutions at relatively shallow depths in their structural/stratigraphic sites of ore deposition.