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Episodic formation of the world-class Waihi epithermal Au-Ag vein system, Hauraki Goldfield, New Zealand

January 1, 2017

The world-class Waihi vein system in New Zealand has produced more than 248,400 kg Au and 1.43 million kg Ag. New high-precision 40Ar/39Ar dates of adularia from different veins show that some veins formed at different times (6.15 Ma Martha vs. 5.83 and 5.85 Ma Empire and Welcome, respectively), even though they have similar mineralogy. The Martha vein formed over a period of approximately 150,000 years. The Moonlight vein, which has a different ore mineral assemblage, appears to have formed over a longer time interval that spanned formation of the Martha, Welcome, and Empire veins. These dates suggest that some veins in the Waihi vein system formed relatively quickly during only part of the lifetime of the hydrothermal system, whereas other veins may have formed over longer periods of time. However, the Au endowment of the Martha vein exceeds the Au endowment of the Moonlight vein, indicating that the total lifetime of the vein-forming hydrothermal system does not determine metal endowment.