Structural setting and timing of hydrothermal veins and breccias on Hurd Peninsula, South Shetland Islands: a possible volcanic-related epithermal system in deformed turbidites

Quartz veins and vein-breccias in a greywacke-shale sequence of ?Carboniferous-Triassic age were previously regarded as mesothermal silicified fault breccias, and related to an adjacent Eocene granodiorite pluton. New mapping of vein assemblages and textures, and their structural and cross-cutting relationships, demonstrates that the steeply dipping, sheeted, epithermal-textured vein array was hydraulic in origin and possibly Cretaceous in age. The main vein and breccia swarm trends for 14 km NNE along-strike and 2 km across-strike, cutting large irregular areas of silicified and brecciated sandstone, and patchy areas of pyritic, propylitic and K-feldspar alteration. Angular vein fabrics and hydraulic disruption textures indicate wedging by hydrothermal solutions, hydraulic rupture, brecciation and fragment transport, followed by open-space precipitation, in veins generally < 15 cm thick and breccias up to a few metres thick. Hydrothermal quartz, chlorite, calcite and chalcedony predominate, with variable amounts of chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite and pyrite. Epidote, arsenopyrite, K-feldspar and andradite garnet are conspicuous in places. Breccias were pre-and syn-mineralization, whereas mineral precipitation was pre-, syn- and post-breccia formation. Hydrothermal activity was simultaneous with extensional faulting, striking NNE, and accompanied by intrusion of dacitic dykes. There followed conjugate shearing on east- and ESE-striking faults, intrusion of high-level tonalite stocks, and several phases of basaltic andesite dyke intrusion. These hypabyssal rocks were probably coeval with the Antarctic Peninsula Volcanic Group dominating Livingston Island, dated between 130 and 75 Ma. Minor copper and iron sulphide-bearing veins occur in adjacent volcanic and hypabyssal intrusive rocks. The Hurd Peninsula veins may, therefore, form part of a volcanic-epithermal hydrothermal system (adularia-sericite-quartz type), of Cretaceous age, rather than a porphyry-related system of Eocene age.


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Authors: Willan, Robert C.R.

1 July, 1994
Geological Magazine / 131
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