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The Sukari gold deposit, Egypt: Geochemical and geochronological constraints on the ore genesis and implications for regional exploration

December 28, 2022

The Sukari gold deposit (>15 Moz Au) in the Eastern Desert of Egypt is hosted by a deformed granitoid stock (Sukari tonalite-trondhjemite intrusion) and mainly occurs as a network of crosscutting sulfide-bearing quartz (± carbonate) veins and intensely sulfidized-silicified-sericitized wall rock. Emplacement of the Sukari intrusion into a tectonized Neoproterozoic accretionary complex was controlled by a system of NE- to NNE-trending oblique faults that are related to a deep-seated positive flower structure. A robust genetic model has been hampered by the poorly understood relationships between gold mineralization and host rocks. In this study, zircon U-Pb ages of three samples from the Sukari intrusion define a crystallization age of ~695 ± 2 Ma. In contrast, hydrothermal sericite from the ore zone yields an 40Ar/39Ar age of ~625 ± 3 Ma, which coincides with the onset of major sinistral transpression in the region.

Features including sigmoidal morphology of gold quartz veins and abundant subhorizontal tension gashes alongside widespread brecciation and recrystallization suggest that quartz veining occurred during renewed shortening and exhumation through the brittle-ductile transition. Petrographic and micro-X-ray fluorescence (µXRF) studies indicate that disseminated gold and sulfides, commonly associated with sericite and carbonate alteration, are mostly confined to stylolitic bands in the quartz veins. Oscillatory and sector zoning patterns, irregular As-rich bands, and truncations between early- and late-genetic pyrites reflect variations in temperature and mechanism of ore deposition, demonstrated by variable As/S and Co/Ni ratios in the different pyrite generations. Laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry analysis pinpoints the covariance of gold and arsenic contents in pyrite, but free milling gold inclusions in microfractures consistently have a mercury-bearing electrum composition, depicting different ore formation stages.

Ore fluids with δ34SH2s">SH2s values of –1.9 to –3.0‰, modeled from gold-associated pyrite and arsenopyrite assemblages with nearly identical δ34S values, suggest a likely single source of sulfur. Alternatively, multisourced sulfur could have extensively mixed and equilibrated by fluid reaction with carbonaceous wall rock. Gold deposition was triggered by abrupt changes in fluid pH and ƒfO2">O2⁠. As an implication for future exploration, sites of maximized strain gradients adjacent to granitoid bodies along extensive transpression zones in the district could be highly prospective targets, particularly where imprinted by sericite-carbonate ± graphite alteration.

Publication Year 2023
Title The Sukari gold deposit, Egypt: Geochemical and geochronological constraints on the ore genesis and implications for regional exploration
DOI 10.5382/econgeo.4990
Authors Basem Zoheir, Astrid Holzheid, Armin Zeh, Ryan J. McAleer, Mohamed El-Behairy, Ulrich Schwarz-Schampera, Torsten Graupner, David Lentz, Fahui Xiong
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Economic Geology
Index ID 70240234
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Florence Bascom Geoscience Center