Geology and Mineralization of the Bald Hill Molybdenum Occurrence, Buller District, West Nelson, New Zealand
Molybdenite mineralization occurs within the Bald Hill Prospect (West Nelson) in brecciated and hornfelsed Greenland Group slates and metagreywackes and associated quartz trondhjemite porphyry minor intrusions (Lyell Porphyry). Potassium argon (K-Ar) ages of the Lyell Porphyry, several granites forming part of the adjacent Karamea Granite batholith (Bald Hill Granites) and mineralized hornfelsic country rocks fall in the range 102-120 Ma (mid-Cretaceous). Adjacent lower Ordovician Greenland Group slates yielded four K-Ar ages in the range 112-226 Ma indicating partial argon outgassing of these older metasediments. The Bald Hill Granites and the Lyell Porphyry granitic rocks belong to separate petrogenic provinces. Bald Hill Granites forming the western margin of the Karamea Granite batholith occur as a suite of foliated, medium-grained, muscovite-bearing leucogranites, pink microgranites and biotite-granites. Chemically these rocks are peraluminous-potash granites with 72-75% SiO2, MgONa2O with Rb > Sr and always contain more than 30% normative quartz and 3% normative corundum. In contrast, the Lyell Porphyry rocks intruding both Greenland Group and Bald Hill Granite country rocks, form a series of small, high-level plutons and cross-cutting dykes of quartz trondhjemite, granodiorite, quartz diorite, lamprophyre and quartz-bearing gabbroporphyry. Chemically the Lyell Porphyry intrusive rocks are soda-rich calc-alkaline granitoids containing 46-70% SiO2, >1% MgO, >2.2% CaO, with Na2O>K2O and Sr>Rb with less than 28% normative quartz and less than 2% normative corundum. From their studies of granite batholiths in southeastern Australia, Chappell and White (1974) recognise two contrasting granitoid types called I-type and S-type granites. The Lyell Porphyry and several other intrusive stocks associated with molybdenum mineralization in West Nelson and North Westland are shown to correspond to I-type granites, in contrast to the Karamea batholith granites (including Bald Hill Granites) which conform to S-type granites. Sulphur isotopic analyses of mineralization for ten molybdenum prospects in West Nelson indicate uniformly high temperatures of mineralization in the range 400° to 500°C, with a probable magmatic source for sulphur. The Bald Hill and other S-type granites forming the Karamea batholith were probably formed by the ultrametamorphism of crustal sedimentary material. The Lyell Porphyry and other molybdenum-bearing calc-alkaline intrusive stocks represent melt phases of deeper origin intruding the overlying granites and sediments. The emplacement of these stocks appears to equate with north-south lineaments and large scale circular features in the granite terranes of West Nelson. The geological setting, age, petrological characteristics and molybdenite mineralization of the Lyell Porphyry and Bald Hill Granites are similar to that of other West Nelson occurrences. All are associated with mid-Cretaceous minor granitic porphyry intrusions, emplaced in Paleozoic metasediments, close to the margins of the Karamea and Separation Point batholiths.