Hydrothermal alteration and Cu-Ni-PGE mobilization in the charnockitic rocks of the footwall of the South Kawishiwi intrusion, Duluth Complex, USA

Zsolt Benkó, Aberra Mogessie, Ferenc Molnár, Kurt Krenn, Simon R. Poulson, Steven Hauck, Mark Severson, Greg B. Arehart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


In the Neoarchean (~ 2.7 Ga) contact metamorphosed charnockitic footwall of the Mesoproterosoic (1.1 Ga) South Kawishiwi intrusion of the Duluth Complex, the primary metamorphic mineral assemblage and Cu-Ni-PGE sulfide mineralization is overprinted by an actinolite + chlorite + cummingtonite + prehnite + pumpellyite + quartz + calcite hydrothermal mineral assemblage along 2-3 cm thick veins. In calcite, hosted by the hydrothermal alteration zones and in a single recrystallized quartz porphyroblast, four different fluid inclusion assemblages are documented; the composition of these fluid inclusions provide p-T conditions of the fluid flow, and helps to define the origin of the fluids and evaluate their role in the remobilization and reprecipitation of the primary metamorphic sulfide assemblage. Pure CO2 fluid inclusions were found as early inclusions in recrystallized quartz porphyroblast. These inclusions may have been trapped during the recrystallization of the quartz during the contact metamorphism of the footwall charnockite in the footwall of the SKI. The estimated trapping pressure (1.6-2.0kbar) and temperature (810-920°C) conditions correspond to estimates based on felsic veins in the basal zones of the South Kawishiwi intrusion. Fluid inclusion assemblages with CO2-H2O-NaCl and CH4-N2-H2O-NaCl compositions found in this study along healed microfractures in the recrystallized quartz porphyroblast establish the heterogeneous state of the fluids during entrapment. The estimated trapping pressure and temperature conditions (240-650bar and 120-150°C for CO2-H2O-NaCl inclusions and 315-360bar and 145-165°C for CH4-N2-H2O-NaCl inclusions) are significantly lower than the p-T conditions (>700°C and 1.6-2kbar) during the contact metamorphism, indicating that this fluid flow might not be related to the cooling of the Duluth Complex and its contact aureole. The presence of chalcopyrite inclusions in these fluid inclusions and in the trails of these fluid inclusion assemblages confirms that at least on local scale these fluids played a role in base metal remobilization. No evidences have been observed for PGE remobilization and transport in the samples. The source of the carbonic phase in the carbonic assemblages (CO2; CH4) could be the graphite, present in the metasedimentary hornfelsed inclusions in the basal zones of the South Kawishiwi intrusion. The hydrothermal veins in the charnockite can be characterized by an actinolite+cummingtonite+chlorite+prehnite+pumpellyite+calcite (I-II)+quartz mineral assemblage. Chlorite thermometry yields temperatures around 276-308°C during the earliest phase of the fluid flow. In the late calcite (II) phase, high salinity (21.6-28.8 NaCl+CaCl2 equiv. wt.%), low temperature (90-160°C), primary aqueous inclusions were found. Chalcopyrite (±sphalerite±millerite), replacing and intersecting the early hydrothermal phases, are associated to the late calcite (II) phase. The composition of the formational fluids in the Canadian Shield is comparable with the composition of the studied fluid inclusions. This suggests that the composition of the fluids did not change in the past 2Ga and base metal remobilization by formational fluids could have taken place any time after the formation of the South Kawishiwi intrusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-188
Number of pages19
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Charnockite
  • Duluth Complex
  • Fluid inclusions
  • Hydrothermal alteration
  • South Kawishiwi intrusion
  • Sulfur isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Hydrothermal alteration and Cu-Ni-PGE mobilization in the charnockitic rocks of the footwall of the South Kawishiwi intrusion, Duluth Complex, USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this