Illite crystallinity and the b-spacing values of white micas and their implications for gold mineralisation in the Lachlan Orogen

C. J L Wilson, S. W. McKnight, A L Dugdale, T. J. Rawling, A. D. Farrar, M. J. McKenzie, W. D. Melling

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Gold mineralisation in the Lachlan Orogen of western Victoria, is generally hosted in turbidites with very low-grade metamorphic assemblages. Metamorphic data from these turbidites are relatively rare because of the fine-grained nature of the pelitic component and lack of suitable assemblages for thermobarometric estimates. In this study, 'illite crystallinity' (Kübler Index) and b-lattice spacing measurements were carried out on white micas in metapelites, collected from near the inferred western margin of the Selwyn Block, as well as three exploration targets, in an attempt to relate thermal and barometric conditions to mineralisation. Higher-grade (epizone) metamorphic conditions are recorded in sequences west of the Whitelaw Fault and lower-grade (anchizone) metamorphic conditions to the east of the fault. The change from epizonal to anchizonal grade is abrupt, resolved to a distance of a few hundred metres. The b-spacing values change adjacent to the Muckleford Fault. This is due to rocks to the east being exhumed as the edge of the Selwyn Block moved westward during the Middle Devonian Tabberabberan Orogeny at ~380 Ma. We propose that the juxtaposition of rocks with contrasting thermal and barometric histories represents expression of the upper crustal location of the western margin of the Selwyn Block at the time of peak deformation, at about 440 Ma, and this crustal structure controlled the distribution of the major quartz-vein-type gold deposits. The Middle Devonian orogenic activity (~380 Ma) was accompanied by the formation of disseminated gold deposits such as Fosterville. This represents a mineralising event that overprints the earlier gold deposits in a corridor at least 50 km wide and to the west of the Whitelaw Fault, that parallels the margin of the Selwyn Block. The correlation between gold assays and 'illite crystallinity' results, from X-ray diffraction and from shortwave infrared-reflectance field-spectroscopy data, were ambiguous. Kübler Indices are not found to be effective in targeting of mineralisation as the values obtained from the alteration and the host-rock assemblages were similar and reflected the ambient P-T conditions at the time of mineralisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1164
Number of pages22
JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • B-spacing
  • Cooling history
  • Gold mineralisation
  • Illite crystallinity
  • Kübler Index
  • Lachlan Orogen
  • Metamorphism
  • Victoria
  • White micas

Cite this

Wilson, C. J. L., McKnight, S. W., Dugdale, A. L., Rawling, T. J., Farrar, A. D., McKenzie, M. J., & Melling, W. D. (2009). Illite crystallinity and the b-spacing values of white micas and their implications for gold mineralisation in the Lachlan Orogen. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 56(8), 1143-1164.