Castroviejo Bolibar, Ricardo and Quesada, Cecilio and Soler, Miguel
Post-depositional tectonic modifications of VMS deposits in Iberia and its economic significance.
"Mineralium Deposita", v. 46
The original stratigraphic relationships and structure of VMS deposits are commonly obscured by deformation. This can also affect their economic significance, as shown by several Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB, SW Iberia) examples. The contrasting rheologic properties of the different lithologies present in an orebody (massive sulphide, feeder stockwork, alteration envelope, volcanic and sedimentary rocks) playa major role in determining its overall behaviour. Variscan thin-skinned tectonics led to stacking of the massive pyrite and stockwork bodies in duplex structures, resulting in local thickening and increased tonnage of minable mineralization. Furthermore, differential mechanical behaviour of the different sulphide minerals localised the detachments along relatively ductile sulphide-rich bands. The result was a geochemical and mineralogical reorganisation of most deposits, which now consist of barren, massive pyrite horses, bounded by base metal-rich ductile shear zones. Metal redistribution was enhanced by mobilisation of the base metal sulphides from the initially impoverished massive pyrite, through pressuresolution processes, to tensional fissures within the already ductile shear zones. In NW Iberia, VMS deposits were also strongly overprinted by the Variscan deformation during emplacement of the Cabo Ortegal and Órdenes allochthonous nappe complexes, but no stacking of the orebodies was produced. Original contacts were transposed, and the orebodies, their feeder zones and the country rock acquired pronounced laminar geometry. In lower-grade rocks (greenschist facies, Cabo Ortegal Complex), solution transfer mechanisms are common in pyrite, which remains in the brittle domain, while chalcopyrite shows ductile behaviour. In higher-grade rocks (amphibolite facies, Órdenes Complex), metamorphic recrystallisation overprints earlier deformation textures. The contrasting behaviour of the IPB and NW Iberian deposits is explained by key factors that affect their final geometry, composition and economics, such as pre-deformation structure, size and mineralogical composition of the orebody and associated lithologies, temperature, crustal level, deviatoric stress and availability of a fluid phase during deformation and the style and rate of deformation.