- © 2011 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy & Petroleum
The Cobalt embayment is a large domain of Paleoproterozoic clastic sedimentary rocks that unconformably overlies the Archean Abitibi greenstone belt. Regionally extensive sills and dikes of Nipissing diabase, emplaced circa 2219 Ma, occur throughout the embayment and are the preferential host to gold-bearing polymetallic vein systems on the Merico-Ethel property, near the northeastern margin of the Cobalt embayment. These gold-bearing, polymetallic veins are predominantly east–west-trending, steeply dipping, discordant calcite-quartz vein systems that formed close to the time of crystallization (within ~15 m.y., based on Pb-Pb ages) of the Nipissing diabase. The ore mineralogy is complex in character, typically comprising sulfides, arsenides, native metals (gold and silver), and specular hematite, preferentially concentrated along the interface between silicate and calcite gangue. A simplified sequence of mineral deposition in the veins is: (1) “Early-stage” pyrite ± chalcopyrite hosted in quartz ± chlorite gangue; (2) “Main-stage” polymetallic (Cu + Co + As + Ag + Au + Bi ± Pb ± Ni ± U) sulfides, arsenides, and native metals hosted in calcite gangue; and (3) “Late-stage” calcite flooding ± galena. Wall-rock alteration in Nipissing diabase is restricted to narrow (<5 cm) haloes of calcite-chlorite-epidote-bearing assemblages, whereas a weak alteration halo of specular hematite, calcite, and allanite-epidote has been observed in the surrounding sedimentary rocks. In terms of their age, geology, mineralogy, paragenesis, and morphology, the gold-bearing vein systems at Merico-Ethel closely resemble the silver-sulfarsenide vein deposits of the historic Cobalt and Gowganda mining camps. These observations indicate that the Au-bearing veins are variants of the Ag-vein systems and as such, have a common genesis belt.