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Minerals 2017, 7(8), 147; doi:10.3390/min7080147

Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Biologically-Mediated Gold Mobilisation and Redeposition in a Semiarid Climate, Southern New Zealand

Geology Department, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
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Received: 21 July 2017 / Revised: 11 August 2017 / Accepted: 13 August 2017 / Published: 16 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geomicrobiology and Biogeochemistry of Precious Metals)
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Abstract

Detrital gold in Late Pleistocene-Holocene placers has been chemically mobilised and redeposited at the micron scale by biologically-mediated reactions in groundwater. These processes have been occurring in a tectonically active semiarid rain shadow zone of southern New Zealand and are probably typical for this type of environment elsewhere in the world. The chemical system is dominated by sulfur, which has been derived from basement pyrite and marine aerosols in rain. Detrital and authigenic pyrite is common below the water table, and evaporative sulfate minerals are common above the fluctuating water table. Pyrite oxidation was common but any acid generated was neutralised on the large scale (tens of metres) by calcite, and pH remained circumneutral except on the small scale (centimetres) around pyritic material. Metastable thiosulfate ions were a temporary product of pyrite oxidation, enhanced by bacterial mediation, and similar bacterial mediation enhanced sulfate reduction to form authigenic pyrite below the water table. Deposition of mobilised gold resulted from localised variations in redox and/or pH, and this formed overgrowths on detrital gold of microparticulate and nanoparticulate gold that is locally crystalline. The redeposited gold is an incidental byproduct of the bacterially-enhanced sulfur reactions that have occurred near to the fluctuating sulfide-sulfate redox boundary. View Full-Text
Keywords: gold; pyrite; sulfate; groundwater; geomicrobiology; authigenic; clay gold; pyrite; sulfate; groundwater; geomicrobiology; authigenic; clay
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Kerr, G.; Craw, D. Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Biologically-Mediated Gold Mobilisation and Redeposition in a Semiarid Climate, Southern New Zealand. Minerals 2017, 7, 147.

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