Native gold and diamonds from the palaeoproterozoic terrigenous rocks of the Bilokorovychi basin, North-Western region of the Ukrainian shield


UDK 549.281 : 549.211

V.M. Kvasnytsya, L.V. Shumlyanskyy
M.P. Semenenko Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Ore Formation of the NAS of Ukraine
34, Acad. Palladin Ave., Kyiv, Ukraine, 03142
Native gold and diamonds from the palaeoproterozoic terrigenous rocks of the Bilokorovychi basin, North-Western region of the Ukrainian shield
Mineralogical journal 2018, 40 (3): 23-38

Abstract: The Bilokorovychi basin is located in the North-Western region of the Ukrainian Shield. It is a 2 to 6 km wide and 22 km long weakly deformed and metamorphosed volcano-sedimentary basin that was formed between c. 1.98 and 1.80 Ga. The Palaeoproterozoic conglomerates and sandstones of the basin host unusual association of native gold and diamond. Native gold from conglomerates is variable in terms of its morphology and chemical composition. Massive fine anhedral gold grains prevail. Grains of the porous gold and grains with numerous autoepitaxic overgrowths of the secondary gold are also common. The microscale overgrown crystals are very variable in terms of their morphology and range from crystallographically undefined grains to ideal octahedrons and their intergrowths, including twins, fivelings, and skeletal octahedrons. Chemical composition ranges from pure gold to medium-grade, silvery, and cuprous gold. Pure gold prevails. Gold and quartz intergrowths are common. Several types of native gold were distinguished according to the mineral assemblages and to the morphology and chemical composition of gold crystals. These types are detrital gold which is rather rare, and a prevailing authigenic gold including biogenic and secondary gold. Diamonds from conglomerates of the Bilokorovychi basin are the oldest so far found in Europe. In terms of the crystal morphology, carbon isotope systematics, and the concentration and state of nitrogen admixture, Bilokorovychi diamonds resemble mantle-derived diamonds from kimberlites and lamproites. In terms of the degree of nitrogen aggregation, some of the Bilokorovychi diamonds are similar to the Archaean diamonds which crystallized in a quiet conditions and a low thermal gradient in the mantle. Rest of the studied diamonds, according to the degree of nitrogen aggregation, had grown at higher temperatures which are more common for the Proterozoic diamonds. An average nitrogen concentration evidence that the studied diamonds are closer to the mantle eclogitic assemblage than to the peridotitic assemblage. The heavy roundness of diamond crystals indicates their prolonged transportation from the bedrock source to the site of deposition. The bedrock source may be represented by kimberlite, lamproite or other rock with the age exceeding or close to 1800 Ma. The most favorable model of the Bilokorovychi diamonds origin is a subduction model. Available data indicate that the North-Western region of the Ukrainian Shield was formed between c. 2150 and 1980 Ma due to continuous subduction of the oceanic lithosphere and gradual accretion of the newly-formed continental crust. A large-scale magmatic event that started at c. 1815 Ma could be a suitable transporter of the mantle-derived material, including diamonds, to the surface.

Keywords: native gold, diamond, the Bilokorovychi basin, the Palaeoproterozoic conglomerates, the Ukrainian Shield.


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