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Mercury in Stratabound copper mineralization in the Mammoth area, northwest Queensland

Journal of Geochemical Exploration
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0375-6742(81)90120-5
  • Earth Science
  • Mathematics


Abstract Copper mineralization along the Mount Gordon Fault Zone in northwest Queensland contains sufficient mercury to permit mercury pathfinder techniques to be used for exploration for further deposits in the area. At the Mammoth mine, the No. 1 orebody contains 310–14000 ppb Hg, with the highest contents in “sooty chalcocite” which may be of supergene origin. The B orebody contains 100–4300 ppb Hg, with highest concentrations at the top of the deposit. Other deposits in the Mammoth area contain 10–1600 ppb Hg, with mean mercury contents > 200 ppb in fault-related mineralization. There is a strong positive correlation between mercury and copper, sulfur, silver, arsenic, bismuth, lead, antimony and thallium contents in the deposits which suggests mercury was introduced during the mineralizing process. However, most of the mercury occurs on the surfaces of sulfide minerals, indicating its introduction at a late stage of mineralization. Mercury in the No. 1 orebody is partly of supergene origin whereas primary mineralogy may control mercury distribution in the B orebody. The presence near the Mammoth Fault of a lens of pyrite containing high concentrations of mercury (geometric mean 820 ppb) suggests that the mercury content of pyrite encountered in future exploration programmes in the region might be used to indicate proximity to mineralized fault zones. Gossans derived from copper deposits contain more than five times the amount of mercury in ironstones developed over unmineralized or poorly mineralized fault zones. The mercury contents of iron-rich rocks may be used to discriminate gossans from the numerous fault ironstones in the Mammoth area.

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