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The Proterozoic Vazante Hypogene Zinc Silicate District, Minas Gerais, Brazil: A Review of the Ore System Applied to Mineral Exploration

The Proterozoic Vazante zinc silicate district in Minas Gerais, Brazil, hosts world-class hypogene willemite deposits in dolomitic rocks interbedded with siliciclastic rocks deposited in subtidal to supratidal environments. Willemite ore bodies are structurally controlled along regional NE-trending structures which are interpreted as being active during the Neoproterozoic Brasiliano orogeny. The hydrothermal alteration is characterized by an early stage of Fe-dolomite, which replaced the host dolomitic rocks, followed by precipitation of minor sphalerite and then hematite and willemite. Elements commonly enriched in the zinc ore include As, Ba, Be, Bi, Cd, Co, Fe, Ge, In, Mo, Ni, Sb, Se, U, V and W. Mineralogical, fluid inclusion and isotopic data indicates that mixing of S-poor metalliferous saline fluids with meteoric water favored the formation of willemite ore. Carbonaceous phyllites from the underlying thick siliciclastic sequence show evidence of early enrichment in zinc (and ore-related metals) and remobilization, respectively, prior to and during the Brasiliano orogenic event. This unit is interpreted as a possible source of ore-related elements. It is proposed that during the Brasiliano orogeny, hot (T > 170 °C) saline fluids (>15 wt % eq. NaCl) leached metals from siliciclastic source rocks and precipitated willemite ore in the overlying dolomitic sequence along structures that favored mixing with oxidizing meteoric water. (Read More)