Institute of Applied Geoscience (IAG)

Structural controls of orogenic gold in Northern Ireland and wider implications to orogenic gold mineralization models

A NERC CASE PhD project (Mr James Shaw)

Supervisors: Dr Taija Torvela and Dr Rob Chapman (SEE); Dr Mark Cooper (Geological Survey of Northern Ireland)

This project synthesizes both regional and deposit-scale studies to illuminate gold mineralization controls and processes in the Grampian terrane of Northern Ireland: Detailed deposit investigations are integrated with wider analysis of regional tectonic and structural evolution to contribute not only to our understanding of ore genesis at a gold-endowed region, but also to clarifying the more general structural controls influencing the location and genesis of these deposit. These studies will underpin a consideration of orogenic gold models and gold deposit genesis in similar settings globally.

Structural controls of orogenic gold are varied and the understanding of the effect of the larger-scale tectonic and structural evolution on the ore deposit formation are still relatively poorly understood. This project studies the regional structural context of specific localities hosting economically important gold mineralization with a view to developing hypotheses which account for the structural location of these occurrences. In this way we aim to investigate whether generic controls may inform existing models for orogenic gold genesis on one hand and regional exploration on the other hand. An important outcome of the study is to apply this new understanding of gold localization to other orogenic gold districts in order to contribute to the ongoing academic debate on the nature of these deposits. 

Good field areas that are both easily accessible and have a reasonable amount of background data are valuable assets in the global efforts of elucidating the debate on orogenic gold genesis. Decent field areas are, however, fairly rare. Northern Ireland provides an excellent basis for study owing to the recent detailed geological mapping by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), and the Tellus program which has generated a state-of-the-art integrated geochemical and geophysical database. Several gold localities in NI have been reported including detrital gold in various river catchments. The UK Caledonides are contiguous with the auriferous terranes along the eastern seaboard of North America which have a long history of gold extraction. This project offers exciting opportunities to address the fundamental questions of the localization and genesis of gold mineralization.

The specific objectives include 3D-4D model building based on data collection and analysis through field work (both underground and surface mapping), and from the Tellus database which will be made available to the project through the involvement of GSNI. Other key objectives include e.g. microanalytics, geomechanics, and detailed rock and vein geochemistry, in order to shed light on the more generic aspects of orogenic gold genesis.



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