Determining sources of placer minerals using U-Pb ages of detrital zircons: example of auriferous quartz pebble conglomerates in Otago and Southland, New Zealand

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Nicholas Mortimer, J Michael Palin, Paul Wopereis


We have dated populations of detrital zircons in two Miocene gold-bearing quartz pebble conglomerates, one at
St Bathans in Central Otago and one near Gore in Northern Southland. Both samples contain large numbers of
Triassic-Permian zircon grains that indicate a source area dominated by Eastern Province Torlesse Composite
Terrane protoliths. On the basis that the detrital quartz, zircon and gold are derived from the same source, we can
thus confirm a textural zone IV Otago Schist source for the gold content of both Miocene deposits. Hypotheses
invoking a Western Province Buller Terrane (e.g. Reefton) source for Central Otago gold are thus refuted. Our
investigation highlights the power of the detrital zircon dating method to identify and/or confirm suspected
sources of economic placer minerals.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


provenance, U-Pb dating, Zircon, gold, Miocene, placer


Published: 2019-03-01 02:17


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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