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The Lerokis and Kali Kuning submarine exhalative gold-silver-barite deposits, Wetar Island, Maluku, Indonesia

Journal of Geochemical Exploration
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0375-6742(94)90031-0


Abstract Wetar, an island in the southern part of the Banda Arc, is made up submarine volcanic rocks, with the oldest rocks exposed being subvolcanic intrusions and flows dated at 12 Ma. Basaltic andesite pillow lavas and intercalated volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks grade upward into more felsic volcanic lavas, tuffs and breccias, and sedimentary rocks and epiclastic mudflows cap the sequence. Gold-silver mineralization occurs at Lerokis and Kali Kuning, 3.5 km apart on the north coast of the island, in stratiform barite sand, clay or silt. The sediments are underlain by Cu-rich massive pyrite in volcanic breccias and overlain by a limestone dated at about 4 Ma. Foot wall volcanic breccias and lavas show intense clay-pyrite alteration indicating temperatures higher than 230°C. In situ geological resources, prior to the inception of mining in 1990, totalled 2.9 Mt at 3.5 g/t Au, 114 g/t Ag and 40% barite at Lerokis and 2.2 Mt at 5.5 g/t Au, 146 g/t Ag and 60% barite at Kali Kuning. Most of the Au occurs as electrum, associated with limonite, jarosite and goethite, and most of the Ag is in tetrahedrite and sulphosalts. High Pb contents, between 0.5% and 1.4% Pb on average, derive from plumbojarosite, sulphosalts and cerrussite, and there is, on average, between 200 ppm to 900 ppm Cu, 0.2% Sb, 0.1% As, 100 ppm to 200 ppm Zn, and 18 ppm Hg. Underlying massive sulphide mineralization is mainly pyrite-marcasite with zones of Cu enrichment. A significant part of the Cu is contained in enargite. Formation likely took place at less than 600 m water depth in a sea floor caldera setting similar to the Kuroko district in Japan. The ferruginous sediments hosting the Au-barite deposits may have originated through erosion like the ochres of Cyprus. These stratiform Au-barite deposits highlight a new style of sea floor mineralization not clearly recognized before. Modern-day analogues have been described from a variety of sea floor settings.

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