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Fault-induced damage controlling the formation of

Carlin-type ore deposits

Steven Micklethwaite*
Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University, ACT 0200, Australia


It is shown that the first-order control on the distribution of gold mineralization in

the northern Carlin Trend was fluid migration through fault-related damage net-
works, triggered by slip events on the Post-Genesis fault system. This fault system con-
sists of two segments ~57 km in length, linked at a stepover across a large
granodiorite intrusion. In the footwall of the system a wall-damage zone consists of
steep, small-displacement faults spatially associated with mineralization. Many
wall-damage zone structures formed on pre-existing planes of weakness (e.g. dike
margins, folded bedding planes and pre-existing faults). In active fault systems, the
static stress changes that occur around an earthquake can be calculated using Stress
Transfer Modelling (STM) and used to understand the distribution of aftershock frac-
turing on damage zone structuresthe critical parameter being positive changes in
Coulomb failure stress. In this study, STM was applied to model hypothetical slip
events on the Post and Genesis fault segments. The distribution of stress change
matches the distribution of gold mineralization, with broad, shallow scallops of min-
eralization occurring in the footwalls of the Post and Genesis fault segments, whereas
mineralization at the tips of the fault system, the stepover and the hangingwall is
deeper (~0.70.9 km, 0.30.9 km and >1 km respectively). Static stress change calcula-
tions indicate the fault system had the ability to induce damage, enhance permeability
and tap fluids as deep as 15 km.

Key Words: faulting, stress change, fluid flow, permeability, Carlin, gold

INTRODUCTION 2003; Chakurian et al., 2003). This suggests faulting and frac-
turing may have been a critical component influencing shallow,
Gold mineralization from the northern Carlin trend formed hydrothermal fluid migration and the formation of these giant
at shallow crustal levels (Cline et al., 2005) during a potentially Carlin-type gold deposits.
short period of time (Hickey et al., 2009), adjacent to an en eche- An important concept with regards to faulting is that slip
lon, normal-offset, segmented fault system (Figure 1). Many is- events and fault growth result in the development a fault core
sues remain controversial, such as the source of the gold, the and a damage zone (Chester and Logan, 1986). Fault cores are
source of the fluids, and the nature of the physical processes that those zones of gouge, localized slip surfaces and comminuted
controlled the migration of fluids. A particular question is rock material across which the majority of slip is accommo-
whether fluid migration was primarily controlled by reaction dated. Deformed wall rocks, containing networks of smaller
(e.g. reaction-enhanced porosity), lithology (e.g. variation in faults and fractures adjacent to the master fault, represent the
primary porosity), pre-existing fracture networks, or short-lived damage zones. Damage zones exist over wide areas (12 km)
fracturing due to active faulting. With regards to this question, around large faults (Cochran et al., 2009) but the intensity of
the timing of mineralization has been linked to the onset of ex- damage around master faults is a maximum at fault tips and in
tension in the Great Basin, during the mid to late Eocene, by a the linking zones between fault segments (McGrath and
number of independent geochronological studies (Hofstra et al., Davison, 1995; Kim et al., 2004). Damage zones are crucial
1998; Ressel et al., 2000; Tretbar et al., 2000; Arehart et al., components of a fault system, profoundly influencing the bulk
sealing properties of faults (Odling et al., 2004), the elastic
*E-mail: steven.micklethwaite@utas.edu.au properties of wall rocks (Cochran et al., 2009), the orientations

222 Steven Micklethwaite

and magnitudes of near-fault stresses (Faulkner et al., 2006; temporal relationship with Carlin-type gold mineralization in
Healy, 2008), and the localization of fluid flow (Chester and Lo- the northern Carlin trend, presumably active during the mid to
gan, 1986; Chen et al., 2007). late Eocene.
This paper reports results from an examination of the fault
system associated with Carlin-type mineralization in the north- GOLDFIELD-SCALE FAULT GEOMETRY,
ern Carlin trend, north-east Nevada (Figure 1). A combination KINEMATICS AND MINERALIZATION
of field mapping and static stress change modeling (King et al.,
1994; Micklethwaite and Cox, 2006) were used to better under- The distribution of mineralization in Carlin deposits is
stand the nature of damage zone structures and their relation- known to have two controls; namely stratigraphy and structure
ship with fault-slip enhanced permeability and the distribution (e.g. Bettles, 2002). Gold mineralization is broadly stratiform
of mineralization. It is shown that damage zone structures likely on the scale of tens to hundreds of metres (Figure 2), but also
had a critical first-order control on fluid migration, and that systematically associated with steep-dipping, normal offset
fluid migration was dependent on active fault processes. faults on the goldfield scale. In particular, the majority of miner-
alization in the northern Carlin trend is spatially associated with
GEOLOGICAL SETTING the Post-Genesis fault and with small-displacement damage
zone faults in its footwall (Figure 2). To a lesser extent minerali-
The geology of northeast Nevada has a protracted history sation is associated with fold hinges or enhanced fracturing in
(nicely summarized in Cline et al., 2005). Two of the most im- contact metamorphic zones around the Jurassic intrusion at the
portant aspects of the geology of Carlin-type deposits in Ne- centre of the trend (Figure 1), which likely provided a
vada, originated early in the geological history of the region. rheological contrast (Bettles, 2002).
The first aspect was rifting and passive margin development The Post-Genesis, Tara and Dee faults describe a NNW- to
(late Proterozoic through to Devonian times) that produced the NNE-striking set of en echelon, left-stepping, faults (Figure 1).
host rocks for Carlin-type mineralization in the northern Carlin The Post-Genesis fault is a segmented structure, where the
trend. The second aspect was development of the Antler orog- northern Post fault segment links across a granodiorite sill to the
eny (initiating in the late Devonian), which resulted in thrusting southern Genesis fault segment (Figure 1). The linkage zone is a
of siliciclastic rocks over Devonian carbonates and shales by the stepover containing a network of small-displacement faults
Roberts Mountain Thrust. The majority of mineralization in the (Heitt et al., 2003). The fault geometries are typical for linkage
northern Carlin trend is hosted in the Devonian carbonates and of fault segments, which interacted across the stepover and were
shales beneath the Roberts Mountain Thrust. The thrust forms kinematically coherent (Walsh et al., 2003; Kim et al., 2004).
such a significant feature that its hangingwall and footwall Tracing the Post fault segment to the north, finds that the struc-
rocks are referred to as upper plate and lower plate respec- ture branches into multiple splays and becomes difficult to map
tively (although confusingly, upper plate rocks originate from north of Ren pit (Figure 1), suggesting the segment is ~7 km
lower in the sedimentary sequence). Throughout the northern long. The Genesis fault segment is ~5 km long, with reliable evi-
Carlin trend, isoclinal, chevron and open folds can be found in dence of the fault trace disappearing in the vicinity of the Uni-
both upper plate and lower plate rocks, probably originating versal Gas pit (Figure 1). Both faults dip steeply at 7080. For
from emplacement of the Roberts Mountain allocthon. normal fault lengths that do not exceed the dimensions of the
Subsequent to the Antler orogeny, multiple orogenic events brittle crust (1015 km), the aspect ratio of down-dip fault width
and periods of sedimentation affected central to northeast Ne- to length is typically assumed to vary from one to three (faults
vada. During the Jurassic, back-arc plutonism and lesser lam- varying from penny-shaped to elliptical; e.g. Scholz, 2002;
prophyre diking occurred, forming many of the intrusive rocks Walsh et al., 2003). Thus the maximum present day depth of the
now exposed in the Carlin trend (Figure1). Apatite Post and Genesis fault segments will be 4.76.9 km. Given that
thermochronology shows the Carlin trend underwent signifi- the present day erosion level of the Post-Genesis fault system
cant exhumation in the late Cretaceous, cooling rocks to was ~1 km and that the fault likely did not breach the surface
<60-70C (Hickey et al., 2003) suggesting they were at shallow (Hickey et al., 2003, Cline et al., 2005), then at the time of min-
depths of <12 km by the time of mineralization. Carlin-type eralization the Post-Genesis fault reached depths of 78 km.
mineralization in the Eocene was coeval with renewed normal This interpretation is more complicated if the Post and Genesis
faulting, high K calc-alkaline magmatism, and paleovalley for- fault segments link to form a single surface in three dimensions
mation involving minor northwest to west-northwest directed at depth (Walsh et al., 2003).
extension (Cline et al., 2005; Henry, 2008). In the northern At the scale of the fault core, the Post fault segment is really
Carlin trend, faults with apparently small and large normal off- a zone consisting of several strands of closely spaced faults
sets (meters to thousands of meters) crosscut upper plate and (Figure 2). Critically, Paleozoic rocks have apparent normal off-
lower plate rocks, and the Roberts Mountain Thrust. From this sets of up to 1000 m (Figure 2), but where the Post fault cuts the
point on, the scope of the structural analysis in this paper is Jurassic intrusion, offsets are ~60 m, indicating unusually high
mainly limited to the fault architecture that has a spatial and displacement gradients along the fault. In contrast, considering
Faulting and Carlin-type gold 223

Figure 1. Map of the northern Carlin trend, modified from Moore (2002), highlighting the major faults associated with mineralisation, plus the Roberts Mountain
Thrust (RMT), fold hinges and intrusions in the area. Bold fault lines represent the first-order faults interpreted to be active during mineralization. The Post-Gene-
sis fault is ~14 km long and segmented, terminating just north of Ren pit and in the vicinity of Universal pit to the south. Note, southeast from the tip of the Genesis
fault is the Castle Reef fault. Mapping in Universal and Lantern open pits suggested the Genesis fault and Castle Reef fault did not link and that the Castle Reef fault
may not be as extensive as previously interpreted. Inset map shows the location of the trend relative to Nevada, USA.
224 Steven Micklethwaite

Figure 2. (A.) West to east cross-section from northern end of Goldstrike pit, modified from plate 3 of Thompson et al. (2002). Mineralization is broadly stratiform
and associated with the Post fault segment and footwall faults. (B.) West to east cross-section through Meikle deposit. The Popovich and Rodeo Creek formations
thin beneath the Roberts Mountain Thrust at a fold in the thrust. The Post-Genesis fault core comprises multiple strands located along the east limb of the fold. Min-
eralization (black dotted line) is concentrated in and adjacent to the Post-Genesis fault core, as a tongue high in the footwall of the Post-Genesis fault, and in Upper
Plate rocks of the Post-Genesis fault core and hangingwall (800 m to >1000 m below surface). (C.) Orientation and lineation data of the Post-Genesis fault.

the Miocene sediments in isolation, the western strands have tionally, the Post fault segment is parallel with antiformal fold
small normal dip-slip offsets in Miocene sediments and the east- hinges close to the footwall of the fault core (Figure 1).
ern strand localized up to 200 m normal dip-slip offset (Figure The Post fault has been previously interpreted as an in-
2). These observations could be interpreted to argue that the ma- verted normal fault (e.g. Cline et al., 2005; Muntean et al., 2007)
jority of displacement was accumulated on the Post fault seg- but inverted normal faults result in hangingwall antiforms, not
ment prior to intrusion of the Jurassic granodiorite sill and that footwall antiforms. Furthermore, such an interpretation would
the Eocene and Miocene involved reactivation of a pre-existing imply a plausible but very complicated geological history of
normal fault. However, the measured Paleozoic offset indicates normal fault formation, inversion during orogenesis, reactiva-
an unrealistically large fault length-displacement ratio of 0.14, tion as a normal fault pre-Jurassic intrusion and development of
relative to typical ratios of 0.03 (Schlische et al., 1996). Addi- highly unusual displacement-length characteristics, followed
Faulting and Carlin-type gold 225

by further extensional reactivation in the Eocene and Miocene. Ma, mapped elsewhere in northeast Nevada. Mapping of
Inspection of Figure 2b shows a relationship between the loca- Eocene sediments and volcanics has revealed north to northwest
tion of the fault plane, plus folding and pinching out of the striking syn-Eocene faults, with small-displacement normal
Popovich and Rodeo Creek Formations, beneath the Roberts dip-slip faults crosscutting and tilting Eocene sediments and
Mountain thrust. Thus an alternative model is proposed, tuffs from paleovalleys (Cline et al., 2005; Henry, 2008). In ad-
whereby during the Eocene portions of the Post fault nucleated dition, there are steep dipping, epithermal quartz veins from the
and propagated from the limbs of a pre-existing fold. In this par- Tuscarora mining district, dated at ~39.2 Ma, with an average
ticular case, the fold may have formed at a ramp on a back thrust northerly strike (Henry et al., 1998). Therefore the regional ex-
of the Roberts Mountain allocthon (Figure 3). The geometric tension direction was east-west to west-northwest directed at
consequence of a fault forming on a pre-existing fold,or folded ~40 Ma. Because the strike of the Post-Genesis fault system is
thrust ramp, would be very large apparent displacement, even north-northwest, this fault system was slightly misoriented rela-
though actual displacements may be only a few hundred metres. tive to the extension direction in the Eocene. Stress and strain
The geological history of the Post fault may be much simpler are tensors, which mean that west-northwest extension could
than that previously assumed. generate normal dip-slip with oblique-slip movement on the
Post-Genesis fault when the maximum principal stress is
Kinematics subvertical and controlled by the lithostatic overburden. The
amount of oblique-slip realised during independent slip events
The slip direction on any fault parallels the maximum shear is dependent on the ratios of the magnitudes of maximum
stress resolved on the fault plane, which can relate to the principle stresses to one another, at the instant of failure
far-field stress state (Ramsay and Lisle, 2000). The Post-Gene- (Ramsay and Lisle, 2000).
sis fault preserves dip-slip lineations with small to moderate More specifically, within the northern Carlin trend the
oblique components (Figure 2c), consistent with west-north- strike of a subvertical Eocene dike (K-dike, Figure 1) indicates
west directed extension, but caution is required interpreting west-northwest directed extension during intrusion. In contrast,
these lineations because they may represent overprinting move- the strikes of Eocene dikes close to the Genesis fault segment
ment from extension during the Miocene. However, the orienta- appear to be rotated relative to the K-dike (Figure 1). The appar-
tion of the far-field stress state can be estimated from the orien- ent rotation of Eocene dikes could be due to a oblique-slip com-
tations of syn-Eocene extensional faults, veins and dykes at ~40 ponent of movement on the Post-Genesis fault, or the dikes may

Figure 3. Conceptual model of Post fault formation, on the fold limb of a previous thrust ramp. The important point of
this model is not whether there is a thrust ramp present, but that pre-existing folding of some type explains why the
Post fault has such apparently large normal offset.
226 Steven Micklethwaite

Figure 4. (A.) Southwest to northeast cross-section through Betze-Post pit, showing opposing dips of small normal
dip-slip faults relative to the Post fault segment. Section was modified from one supplied by Barrick Gold Ltd. Data
resolution is not good enough to determine trace of offset of faults through Upper Plate rocks. (B.) Schematic section
and photo from a traverse on bench 5120, west wall of Betze-Post pit, showing general attitude of bedding horizons
and faults, in the Rodeo Creek formation of Lower Plate rocks. Note, stratigraphy on the formation scale is only
mildly folded but internally tight folding, bedding plane lineations and low angle detachments occur, possibly con-
trolled by rheological contrasts between individual beds. The majority of folds may have formed during emplacement
of the Roberts Mountain Thrust, though a thorough study is required. (C.) Fault orientation and lineation data from
damage zone structures exposed in both Betze-Post and Genesis pits.

have intruded in that orientation due to the stress rotations that (e.g. Ren pit in the north of the trend, see also Figure 2). (2) Min-
typically occur towards the tips of fault segments. eralization in the footwall of the Post-Genesis fault system de-
scribes broad but relatively shallow scallops, extending over 2
Distribution of Mineralization km away from the segments. (3) Mineralization exists at depth
(1.51.8 km) in the hangingwall of the fault, hosted in upper
There are several important features of the distribution of plate rocks (Figure 2). (4) Within and adjacent to the core of the
mineralization around the Post-Genesis fault system worth not- Post-Genesis fault system, mineralisation deepens and becomes
ing. (1) The majority of ore comes from the Popovich formation parallel with the fault (0.30.6 km). (5) Mineralization deepens
in lower plate rocks (Figure 2) but mineralization crosses for- in the stepover between the Post and Genesis fault segments
mation boundaries, and is found in many other rock types, in- (0.30.9 km), and has also been found at depths 0.70.9 km at
cluding upper plate rocks above the Roberts Mountains Thrust the tip of the Post fault (not shown in Figure 1).
Faulting and Carlin-type gold 227

So overall, a pattern emerges of shallow footwall mineral- tion (e.g. West Bazza fault in Betze-Post pit). Damage zone
ization, deepening along and parallel with the master fault cores faults generally have small, normal dip-slip offsets, and a range
and stepover, and existing at depth in the hangingwall of the sys- of lineation orientations. The Peculiar fault and East-East
tem. These observations also indicate that the distribution of Longlac fault are two examples from Betze-Post pit (Figure 5).
mineralization is not due to upper plate rocks acting as an Both faults are located on the margins of dikes, with smooth, un-
aquitard (e.g. Cline et al., 2005) but rather that faulting and frac- dulating, semi-continuous main slip surfaces. East-East
turing (present in both upper and lower plate rocks) were impor- Longlac fault is steeply dipping (155/68W) with normal
tant pathways for ore-forming fluids to access suitable reactive dip-slip offset of meters to possibly a few tens of meters. Good
lithologies. gold grades were present in and adjacent to the fault at the
East-East Longlac fault exposure shown in Figure 5b. Damage
DAMAGE ZONE FAULTS can occur on all scales, and may have included the formation of
distributed microcracking in mineralized sediments (Figure
Damage zones are classified into different geometric types 5c). Fault rocks originating from brecciated dike material (Fig-
depending on their location around the master fault (Kim et al., ure 5d), are commonly poorly consolidated, clay-rich with
2004). Tip-damage zones are developed at the tips of faults, link- gritty textures and contain some narrow (>1 cm), anastamosing,
ing-damage zones form where adjacent fault segments interact dark shears (possibly ultracataclasites). Weak fabrics are vari-
and link (e.g. at stepovers), and wall-damage zones represent ably present. On the basis of global fault displacement-length
faulting and fracturing in the near-field, wall rock region of a data (Schlische et al., 1996), many of the damage zone faults are
fault. The near-field region of a fault is defined here as that re- under-displaced (c.f. Vetel et al., 2005)that is to say the dam-
gion within one fault segment length of a fault (i.e. within ~5 km age zone faults are interpreted to be continuous for several kilo-
of the Post-Genesis fault). The majority of mineralization re- meters (e.g. Moore, 2002) but they accommodate offsets of only
lated to the Post-Genesis fault system is associated with wall- meters to tens of meters.
and linking-damage zone structures (Figure 1, see also Bettles In summary the damage zone faults tend to display a range
2002; Heitt et al., 2003). Many of the wall-damage zone struc- of unusual characteristicslow displacement-length ratios,
tures in the Betze-Post and Genesis pits are off-fault (i.e. not steep dips, dip directions opposing the master fault, strikes
necessarily connected to the master fault), in the near-field to oblique to the extension direction in the Eocene, multiple
the master fault and only exposed in the footwall because the lineation directions and spatial location on the margins of dikes,
hanging wall is covered by a Miocene sedimentary basin. fold limbs or pre-existing reverse faults. Taken together these
Typical characteristics of the damage zone faults are their observations indicate damage zone faulting was strongly con-
steep dips (>60), with multiple strike orientations and dip di- trolled by the mechanics of pre-existing structure or weak sur-
rections opposing those of the Post-Genesis fault (Figure 4). faces, which determined their orientations. Indeed, in some
The average strike is semiparallel with the Post-Genesis fault cases there may even be multiple small-displacement faults
(Figure 4c). A number are localised on the margins of dikes and aligned along strike on the flanks of the same pre-existing dyke.
some are associated with folds. Old reverse faults are also pres- Thus, the wall-damage zone to the Post-Genesis fault system
ent, which appear to have been reactivated during mineraliza- represents an unusual type of damage zone, where near-field

Figure 5. Field photographs of wall-damage faults. (A.) The Peculiar fault localised along the margin of a subvertical pre-existing dike, people for scale. (B.) The
East-East Langlac fault localized on the hangingwall margin of a dike, with intense local visible alteration in the wall rock marked by silicification and bleaching.
Good gold grades are associated with this exposure (C.Weakly pers comm). (C.) Hand specimen hangingwall sample, taken 3 m away from the fault showing pri-
mary sedimentary features such as fining up, and cut by a distributed network of microcracks (m). (D.) Hand specimen from the hangingwall of the East-East
Langlac fault. Brecciated and altered dike material is associated with sooty pyrite (py) at its contact with silicified wall rock. A late barite vein (ba) transects this
contact and entrains small fragments of pyrite. Sooty pyrite alteration is parallel with the fault and also infills microcracks.
228 Steven Micklethwaite

faulting was controlled by the reactivation of pre-existing stress (King et al., 1994), and experiments that varied these pa-
misoriented structures, such as dikes, fold limbs and old faults. rameters had no significant impact on results. The change in
Coulomb failure stress was calculated using;
DsF = Dt + m(Dsn).
Changes in Coulomb failure stress (DsF) are used as a
proxy for the triggering of earthquakes and the distribution of This simple equation states that Coulomb failure stress
aftershocks (e.g. King et al., 1994; Stein et al., 1997; Parsons et change, adjacent to a fault slip event, is related to changes in
al., 2008). Whenever a fault slip event occurs, highly connected shear stress (Dt), changes in normal stress (Dsn) and apparent
porosity is generated in the fault core and damage is reactivated friction (m). Apparent friction is related to the coefficient of
or created in wall rocks, enhancing permeability (Sheldon and static friction (Byerlee, 1978) and Skemptons coefficient
Micklethwaite, 2007). On this basis, static stress change calcu- (Micklethwaite and Cox, 2006), and for shales or calcareous
lations (otherwise referred to as Stress Transfer Modeling or muddy sediments the value used was m = 0.14.
STM) may also be applied to predict domains where permeabil-
ity was enhanced around fault systems. Results
STM has been successfully applied to explain the distribu-
tion of fault-vein hosted mineralization around regional-scale Changes in Coulomb failure stress were calculated for
shear zones in mesothermal lode-gold deposits from greenstone faults of specific orientations. Figure 6 shows the distribution of
belts (Cox & Ruming, 2004; Micklethwaite & Cox, 2004, 2006; positive stress changes for (1) normal dip-slip surfaces which
Micklethwaite et al., 2009). Three dimensional (3D) elastic are optimally oriented for failure relative to the far-field stress
half-space dislocation models are used to calculate the stress regime, and, (2) faults with an orientation parallel with the aver-
changes around faults. Critical parameters are (1) master fault age orientation of wall-damage zone structures (i.e. 160/75,
geometry, (2) kinematics (generally controlled by the orienta- rake -85, according to the right-hand rule). Those domains
tion of the far-field stresses), (3) depth of the master fault rela- where positive stresses are resolved for optimally oriented
tive to the Earths surface, and (4) the coseismic slip distribution faults, represent volumes expected to contain the most intense
on the master fault plane, especially where slip events had a ten- damage (i.e. in step-overs and at fault tips). Those domains
dency to arrest at fault stepovers or fault tips. where positive stresses are resolved for faults with typical
Based on the field observations, the Post-Genesis fault sys- wall-damage zone orientations represent the volumes where
tem was reconstructed in 3D, with the top of the fault system set wall-damage zone type faults are most likely to have been acti-
at 500 m below the model surface, and the fault surfaces subdi- vated.
vided into multiple rectangular panels (Figure 6). The panels al- Figure 6 demonstrates that, for optimally oriented normal
lowed bends in the fault surface to be approximated and slip ta- dip-slip faults, domains of positive stress change are concen-
pered across the Post and Genesis fault segments (Figure 6a). trated at the tips and in the stepover of the Post-Genesis fault
The average magnitude of slip applied to each fault segment was system, forming dip-parallel, pipe-like volumes that are contin-
determined according to fault size, using the empirical relation- uous to the base of the fault system. Thus, the presence of deep
ships presented by Wells and Coppersmith (1994). For faults in mineralization at the tip of the Post fault and in the Post-Genesis
shales and calcareous sediments with low values of elastic stepover could be explained by the triggering of optimally ori-
moduli (e.g. shear modulus of 1.4 105 bars), average fault slip ented normal faults, in domains of tip-zone damage. Positive
per event on the Post Fault and Genesis Fault segments would be stress changes at the Earths surface, deepen close to and along
expected to be ~0.65 m. A series of control model experi- the Post fault segment. Figure 6b shows that, for faults with the
ments were also run, where the general stress change patterns same orientation as wall-damage zone faults, shallow scallops
were investigated around a single, planar, steeply dipping nor- of positive stress change are generated in the footwall of the
mal dip-slip fault, with similar dimension, orientation and kine- Post-Genesis fault system (matching the distribution of miner-
matics to the Post fault segment. Comparisons of stress changes alization in the Genesis and Betze-Post pits). Positive stress
between the simpler and more complicated model configura- changes also form semi-continuous domains that deepen close
tions found that the first-order pattern of results was not greatly to the fault surfaces (where mineralization is known to deepen),
affected. Youngs modulus for shales is typically a low value of and in well-developed domains in the hangingwall of the system
3 105 bars. Poissons ratio is often taken to be 0.25 but for fluid (where mineralization has been found at depths of >1 km).
saturated rocks Poissons ratio may be as high as 0.4. Values for These distributions of positive stress change bear marked simi-
the principal stresses s1>s2>s3 were fixed at 27.0 MPa/km, larities with the distribution of gold mineralization noted earlier,
16.5 MPa/km and 10.0 MPa/km respectively, consistent with thus the mineralisation associated with the Post-Genesis fault
crust undergoing extension that is in frictional equilibrium system occurs in locations that are expected to have accumu-
(Brudy et al., 1997). Either way, model results are generally in- lated damage during slip events on that fault system. For exam-
sensitive to variations in elastic parameters and differential ple, the Genesis and Betze-Post pits both fit within the footwall
Faulting and Carlin-type gold 229

Figure 6. (A.) Post-Genesis fault model in 3D, composed of multiple panels with displacement distributed across the surfaces of the fault segments. (B.) Map view
of the fault model, shown with the gradient of Coulomb failure stress change used in C-D. (C.) 2D results at increasing depth slices, showing stress changes resolved
on optimally oriented normal dip-slip faults (010/60, rake -90, relative to the right-hand rule). Black polygons represent the surface projection of mineralization as-
sociated with the Post-Genesis fault system, grey polygons are mineralization associated with other faults in the northern Carlin trend. Mineralization deepens
close to the fault planes and in the stepover of the system. Deep mineralization has also been detected in the hanginwall and north tip of the Post fault segment (not
shown). Stress changes indicate damage is generated continuously to depth at the tips and stepover of the system, and damage also accumulates close to and parallel
with the fault plane, to model depths of >1 km. (D.) 2D results at increasing depth slices, showing stress changes resolved on optimally oriented normal dip-slip
faults (160/75, rake -85, relative to the right-hand rule). Stress changes indicate wall-damage faults are triggered in shallow footwall scallops, and close to and par-
allel with the fault plane. Wall-damage type faults are not triggered in the stepover domain or fault tip zones, but are likely to have been triggered in the hangingwall
of the system. (E.) 3D representation of the results shown in C-D. The distribution of stress change is asymmetric between the Post and Genesis fault segments and
reaches 15 km depths.
230 Steven Micklethwaite

stress domains, the deeper Deep Star and Deep Post deposits are represented by the world-class Betze-Post and Genesis pits.
located at the Post-Genesis stepover, where stress changes are The approach outlined here provides a physically sound ba-
continuous with depth. sis to understand fluid migration and the distribution of mineral-
The pattern of stress change is asymmetric around the ization. On the meter scale physico-chemical processes such as
Post-Genesis fault system (Figure 6e), due to the larger size of reaction-enhanced porosity may well be important, which pos-
the Post fault segment, and the obliquity that existed between sibly explains the presence of approximately stratiform miner-
the orientation of the fault and the Eocene extension direction. alization in places. However, the first-order control, on the gold-
3D isosurfaces of positive stress change show that positive field scale, was faulting and fracturing related to slip events on
stress changes could have been generated down to ~15 km (Fig- the Post-Genesis fault system. Fluid flow during Carlin-type
ure 6e). Due to the asymmetry of the system, the Post fault seg- mineralization has previously been interpreted as passive
ment was capable of generating positive stress changes over (Cline et al., 2005), meaning that mineralizing fluids exploited
larger volumes of rock relative to the Genesis fault segment. pre-existing, quasi-permanent porosity networks, such as frac-
tures and bedding horizons. However, the results of this study
DISCUSSION suggest that porosity was generated by the faulting process, per-
haps repeatedly. Mineralization was dependent on slip events on
Damage zones are critical components of a fault system the Post-Genesis fault system, which possibly resulted in cycles
(Chester and Logan, 1986; Odling et al., 2004; Cochran et al., of coseismic fracturing and interseismic healing
2009). In the Carlin-type ore deposits of the northern Carlin (Micklethwaite et al., 2010). During and following a slip event,
trend a combination of field observations and numerical model- fluids migrated through the fault core and damage zone of the
ling indicate that wall-damage and linking-damage zone struc- Post-Genesis fault system, before reacting with and
tures controlled the migration of fluids and influenced the gold- mineralizing suitable lithological hosts.
field-scale location of mineralization. The damage is both
off-fault and located in the near-field of the Post-Genesis fault
system, and is unusual because it formed along pre-existing
planes of weakness, such as dike margins, fold limbs and old
Connie Nutt is thanked for a thoughtful review of the manu-
reverse faults.
script. Barrick Gold and Newmont, are thanked for excellent lo-
Damage zone faults associated with mineralization in the
gistical and financial support during the course of this study.
northern Carlin Trend, extend up to 2 km laterally from the mas-
Trevor Beardsmore, Francois Robert, Paul Doback, and Lee
ter fault, across strike. This width narrows significantly with
Sampson of Barrick Gold, and Alan Goode of AMIRA Interna-
depth and mineralization becomes localized adjacent to the fault
tional were invaluable in helping the project start. Special
plane, and in stepover domains (e.g. Heitt et al., 2003). Further-
thanks go to Charles Weakly and Jim Essman for all their help in
more, deep mineralization has been discovered at the northern
the field. Most of this work was completed while S.M. was at the
tip of the Post fault segment and in the hanging wall of the Post
Australian National University working under ARC Linkage
fault segment.
grant LP0562164, with Prof. Stephen Cox.
Stress Transfer Modelling can be used to explain the distri-
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