"Brown Ore" from the Fukasawa Kuroko Deposits, Northeast Japan: Its Characteristics and Formation Process

Osamu Ishizuka, Akira Imai

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Brown-colored sulfide ore (brown ore) occurs in the easternmost part of the Tsunokakezawa No. 1 orebody of the Fukasawa kuroko-type deposits, northern Honshu, Japan. As this type of ores also occur in the marginal or uppermost part of several other kuroko deposits in Japan, the formation of brown ore appears to be repeated in the process of kuroko formation. The brown ore is characterized by its higher Ag concentration (up to around 2000 g/t) than ordinary black ore (Zn-Pb ore) of volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits. The brown ore from the Fukasawa deposits can be divided into following three ore types based on its texture and mineral composition: pyritic brown ore, principal brown ore and "diseased" brown ore. Primary precipitation textures such as framboidal- and colloform-textures and compositional zoning within sulfide grains are significant in the brown ores. This seems to be due to lack of overprinting high temperature mineralization resulting in preservation of primary features. The Ag-Au mineralization is widely observed within the brown ores. Silver and gold are especially concentrated in the barite veinlets in the principal brown ore, which are supposed to be fillings of conduit of hydrothermal solution precipitated in the latest stage of hydrothermal activity. This mineralization seems to occur at waning stage of brown ore formation by ore solution at a lower temperature (around 250°C) than that of main part of brown ore (around 270°C). Relatively low fluid temperature and contribution of oxic ambient seawater may be responsible for the development of the Ag-Au mineralization in the brown ore. The occurrence of framboidal-rich pyritic brown ore having negative δ34S values (less than -10‰) and filamentous texture of sphalerite, seeming remnant of bacteria, indicate the presence of intensive microbial activity in the hydrothermal area for brown ore formation. Formation environment of each ore type of the brown ore is supposed to be as follows: Pyritic brown ore is likely to have formed on the sea-floor around redox boundary at temperature (around 240°C) lower than ordinary black ore. Principal brown ore seems to have been formed beneath the shell of the pyritic brown ore at temperature around 270°C. Footwall of the brown ore is disseminated tuff breccia corresponding to feeder zone of hydrothermal fluid. Overprinting chalcopyrite mineralization is not observed in the brown ore except in limited part of "diseased" ore, which occurs just above the disseminated tuff breccia. Based on the features distinct from the ordinary black ore, the brown ore can be regarded as a product in the marginal part of submarine hydrothermal system, where temperature and flow rate of hydrothermal solution was relatively low and microbial activity was intensive. The brown ore seems to well preserve its primary features after its deposition and might show the initial feature of some part of the ordinary stratiform black ore.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-73
Number of pages21
JournalResource Geology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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