Lithostratigraphy, geochronology and gold metallogeny in the Northern Guiana Shield, South America: A review

Département des Sciences de la Terre et de l'Atmosphère, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM), CP 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 3P8
Ore Geology Reviews (Impact Factor: 3.56). 10/2001; 18(3-4):211-236. DOI: 10.1016/S0169-1368(01)00030-0


With a surface area of nearly 900,000 km2, the Guiana Shield represents the northern segment of the Amazonian Craton in South America, lying for the most part between the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Most of the Guiana Shield formed during protracted periods of intense magmatism, metamorphism and deformation, culminating with the Trans-Amazonian tectono-thermal event, bracketed between 2.1 and 1.9 Ga.The Guiana Shield is among the least known Precambrian terranes because it is relatively inaccessible, lacks bedrock exposure due to intense weathering and is poorly documented in the international geological literature. This situation has significantly improved during the last 20 years, when shallow in situ gold occurrences attracted exploration and mining companies to initiate geological programs aimed at better understanding the geology and the mineral deposits of the Shield.The only Archean terrane (ca. 3400 Ma) known to date in the Guiana Shield is the Imataca Complex in Venezuela. The Paleoproterozoic low-grade volcano–sedimentary greenstone sequences and associated granitoid intrusions have yielded ages between 2.25 and 2.08 Ga. Recent U–Pb age determinations of the granitoid–greenstone belts suggest protracted magmatic cycles from pre- to post-peak regional metamorphism. The younger terranes comprise anorogenic sedimentary sequences of the Roraima Formation, as well as felsic volcanic rocks and associated intrusions of the Uatuma Formation, mafic dikes of the Avanavero Suite and Rapakivi-type and alkali intrusions.Several large-scale ductile shear zones have been documented in the Guiana Shield. In northcentral Venezuela, the most outstanding structure documented to date, the NE–SW trending Guri Fault, juxtaposes the Archean Imataca complex against Paleoproterozoic terranes. The Central Guiana Shear Zone (CGSZ) extends from French Guiana westerly towards central Suriname and further west towards northcentral Guyana, where it matches with the Makapa–Kuribrong shear zone (MKSZ). In French Guiana, the North Guiana Trough (NGT) is interpreted as a sinistral strike-slip formed during the Trans-Amazonian orogeny.Most gold deposits and occurrences discovered to date in the Guiana Shield are sited in close proximity to major structures. In addition, they are linked with low- to medium metamorphic-grade granitoid–greenstone belts, similar to other better-explored Precambrian terranes. At a local scale, the gold deposits are hosted within, or in close proximity to, quartz veins that are syn- to late-tectonic, and to a lesser extent, in stockworks, breccias, and lenses. They are commonly located in units that behaved in a more brittle manner than the country rocks. Available information suggests that gold deposits are mainly epigenetic, although some are associated with specific lithostratigraphic units. Pyrite, pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, scheelite, molybdenite and tellurides are the main metallic minerals associated with gold. Non-metallic minerals are mainly quartz and carbonates (ankerite, calcite, siderite), associated with minor chlorite, epidote, albite, muscovite and fuchsite. Silica, carbonate, propylitic and potassic alteration is common.High erosion rates expected after the creation of an orogenic belt did not occur in the northern Guiana Shield. Shallow-level deposits preserved in many settings suggest that the granitoid–greenstone belts represent first-order exploration targets for large tonnage/low-grade gold deposits.

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    • "The total area of 87 500 km2 (Collectif 2002) is approximately 96% tropical rainforest. Most of the gold deposits are epigenetic, sited in the proximity of major geological structures, and linked to low and medium metamorphic grade granitoid-greenstone belts (Milesi et al. 1995; Voicu et al. 2001). Weng et al. (2006) established a map of the potential maximum surface touched by the gold bearing extraction by taking into account parameters such as the geological data, the map of the known gold mining sites (BRGM Inventory of the mining resources of the French territory, 1970–1995) and the ancient and recent placer mining (legal and illegal). "
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    ABSTRACT: Use of mercury (Hg) for gold-mining in French Guiana (up until 2006) as well as the presence of naturally high background levels in soils, has led to locally high concentrations in soils and sediments. The present study maps the levels of Hg concentrations in river sediments from five main rivers of French Guiana (Approuague River, Comté River, Mana River, Maroni River and Oyapock River) and their tributaries, covering more than 5 450 km of river with 1 211 sampling points. The maximum geological background Hg concentration, estimated from 241 non-gold-mined streams across French Guiana was 150 ng g-1. Significant differences were measured between the five main rivers as well as between all gold-mining and pristine areas, giving representative data of the Hg increase due to past gold-mining activities. These results give a unique large scale vision of Hg contamination in river sediments of French Guiana and provide fundamental data on Hg distribution in pristine and gold-mined areas.
    SpringerPlus 06/2014; 3(1):322. DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-3-322
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    • "The Guiana Shield (Fig. 1b) covers an area of nearly 900,000 km 2 between the Amazon and the Orinoco rivers and underlies the territory of five countries: Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil (Voicu et al., 2001). In Venezuela, the northern part of the Guiana Shield, known as the Guayana Craton, is subdivided into four geological provinces (Fig. 2 "
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    ABSTRACT: The El Callao Formation is part of the Guasipati-El Callao Greenstone Belt, located in the northernmost part of the Guiana Shield, Venezuela. It consists of volcanic rocks, which have been analyzed for major and trace elements, REE concentrations and Sr–Nd isotopic composition. Based on these data, they have been characterized as Fe-rich tholeiitic basalts. On a primitive mantle-normalized diagram, all basalt samples display fairly flat patterns for the REE (La/SmCN=0.77–1.13 and La/YbCN=0.87–1.42) as well as for other trace elements, without negative anomalies for either Eu (Eu/Eu*=0.88–1.19) or Nb. The basalts have low initial Sr isotopic ratios (∼0.7014 to ∼0.7019) and low positive ɛNdi values (+0.7 to +2.1). Based on these geochemical data we propose that the tholeiitic basalts were formed in an oceanic plateau tectonic setting from a mantle plume source, possibly from the plume-head peripheral part, and that they have a primitive mantle source. Samples show isotopically uniform juvenile features, which rule out the possibility of significant contamination of the protolith magmas by ancient continental crust. These results are similar to those obtained from other greenstone belts from the Guiana Shield and Birimian domains of the West African Craton. As noted recently by Bierlein and Craw (2009), metabasalts derived from an oceanic plateau, when accreted into a collisional orogen, may result in significant gold enrichment; metamorphic terranes hosting large volumes of these rocks, such as the Guasipati-El Callao Greenstone Belt, are consequently prospective for gold mineralization.
    Precambrian Research 04/2011; 186(1):181-192. DOI:10.1016/j.precamres.2011.01.016 · 5.66 Impact Factor
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    • "We propose that the Tinaquillo Complex originated from the northwestern margin of the SAP, which is in accord with the larger-scale models for Caribbean Plate–South American Plate interactions. We further propose that the Tinaquillo peridotites represent refractory SCLM, genetically coupled with the Guiana Shield (Fig. 1d), one of the two world's most extensive domains of Proterozoic crust—the Trans-Amazonian granitoids-greenstone belts, yielding ages between 2.25 and 2.08 Ga (e.g., Teixeira et al. 1989; Norcross et al. 2000; Voicu et al. 2001). "
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    ABSTRACT: An origin of the Tinaquillo Peridotite Complex in northern Venezuela, and a model for the tectonic framework of the boundary zone between the southern Caribbean Plate margin and the South American Plate (SAP) during Late Jurassic to Mid-Cretaceous time are developed using newly measured Sr, Nd, Pb and Hf isotopic compositions as well as major and trace element geochemistry for some hornblendite veins and their spinel peridotite host rocks. Depleted geochemical characteristics, principally major element concentrations, and Nd and Hf isotopes (e.g., εNd=+27; εHf=+50; ca. 3.4Ga-Nd model age) of the Tinaquillo peridotites suggest a genetic link between this complex and the Guiana Shield farther to the south within Venezuela. Scattered zones within the Tinaquillo peridotite were overprinted by what we interpret as channelized hydrous fluids (<∼3%) derived from the eastward-dipping subduction of the Farallon Plate beneath the SAP in the Late Jurassic, leading to modification of the original Sr, Nd and Hf isotopic compositions as well as the incompatible element concentrations. The hornblendite veins have Sr, Nd, Pb and Hf isotopic compositions, falling within the range of present-day Pacific/Atlantic MORB, but trace element abundance patterns with combinations of arc- and MORB-like characteristics. These results rule out the possibility of local melting of the host peridotites to produce magmas from which the hornblendite veins formed. We suggest that during inception of the westward-dipping subduction of the Protocaribbean Plate immediately following polarity reversal in the Mid-Cretaceous, melts infiltrated the mantle lithosphere and produced the veins.
    Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 04/2007; 153(4):443-463. DOI:10.1007/s00410-006-0159-3 · 3.48 Impact Factor
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