- © 2007 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
The Eel River area in the southwestern Miramichi terrane of New Brunswick contains a complete calc-alkaline suite of volcanic rocks that are interlayered with intervals of sedimentary and polylithic fragmental rocks, and are overlain by a thick sedimentary sequence. This package, collectively referred to as the Meductic Group, was deposited in a submerged volcanic arc setting interpreted to be part of the Popelogan arc. Rifting of this arc led to the development of the Tetagouche-Exploits back-arc basin, and formation of volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits in bimodal volcanic rocks of the Bathurst Mining Camp in the northeastern Miramichi Terrane. Unlike the Bathurst Mining Camp, volcanic rocks in the southeastern Miramichi Highlands form a continuous calc-alkaline suite characterized by increasing Zr/TiO2 with increasing SiO2, in part resulting from progressive coupled assimilation and fractional crystallization of nested magma systems. Slumping of semi-consolidated volcanic and sedimentary rocks in topographically unstable areas resulted in numerous slumps and debris flows that are preserved throughout the Eel River area.
In the early 1990s, the discovery of a large sulfide clast in a road cut along the Benton road sparked interest in the volcanogenic massive sulfide potential of the Eel River area. Subsequent drilling intersected smaller fragments, one clast of which graded 16.7% Zn, 5.6% Pb, 90 ppm Ag, and 220 ppb Au. The intersection of thin lenses of stratiform sulfides in another drillhole indicates favorable conditions for the preservation of massive sulfides. Their subsequent incorporation into synvolcanic debris flows resulted in the transport and deposition of sulfide clasts from hydrothermal vents to more distal locations. Similar to the Buchans deposits of Newfoundland, tracing these debris flows back to their source would be beneficial from an exploration perspective. Approximately 15 km to the southwest of the Eel River area, gold-bearing base metal sulfide clasts (11.1% Zn, 6.13% Pb, 0.19% Cu, 108 ppm Ag, and 1100 ppb Au) occur within intermediate-composition volcanic rocks at Monument Brook in eastern Maine.