• Diatremes act as fluid conduits for Zn-Pb mineralization in the SW Irish Ore field

      Gernon, Thomas M.; Roberts, Stephen; Boyce, Adrian J.; Hewson, Chad; Elliott, Holly; University of Southampton (GeoScienceWorld, 2019-02-28)
      Irish-type mineralization is commonly attributed to fault-controlled mixing of a seawater-derived, sulfur-rich fluid and basement-derived, metal-rich fluid. However, maar-diatreme volcanoes discovered in close spatial and temporal association with Zn-Pb mineralization at Stonepark in the Limerick basin (southwest Ireland) bring a new dimension to established geologic models and may increase the deposit-scale prospectivity in one of the world’s greatest Zn-Pb districts. Stonepark exhibits many incidences of dolomitic black matrix breccias with associated Zn-Pb mineralization, the latter typically occurring within 150 m of the diatremes. Highly negative δ34S pyrite values within country rock-dominated black matrix breccias (–12 to –34‰) are consistent with sulfide precipitation from bacteriogenic sulfur reduction in seawater-derived brines. However, δ34S values of Zn-Pb sulfides replacing black matrix breccias (–10 to 1‰) reflect multiple sulfur sources. Diatreme emplacement both greatly enhanced country rock fracture permeability and produced conduits that are filled with porous volcaniclastic material and extend down to basement rock types. Our δ34S data suggest that diatremes provide more efficient fluid pathways for basement-derived fluids. The diatremes introduce another potential sulfur source and facilitate a greater input of metal-rich basement-derived hydrothermal fluid into the system compared to other Irish-type deposits such as Navan and Lisheen, evidenced by Stonepark’s more positive modal δ34S value of –4‰. Irish-type deposits are traditionally thought to form in association with extensional basement faults and are considered unrelated to extensive Carboniferous magmatism. Our results indicate that a direct link exists between diatreme volcanism and Zn-Pb mineralization at Limerick, prompting a reevaluation of the traditional Irish-type ore formation model, in regions where mineralization is spatially associated with volcanic pipes.