Orogenic Gold in Transpression and Transtension Zones : Field and Remote Sensing Studies of the Barramiya–Mueilha Sector, Egypt

Multi-sensor satellite imagery data promote fast, cost-efficient regional geological mapping that constantly forms a criterion for successful gold exploration programs in harsh and inaccessible regions. The Barramiya–Mueilha sector in the Central Eastern Desert of Egypt contains several occurrences of shear/fault-associated gold-bearing quartz veins with consistently simple mineralogy and narrow hydrothermal alteration haloes. Gold-quartz veins and zones of carbonate alteration and listvenitization are widespread along the ENE–WSW Barramiya–Um Salatit and Dungash–Mueilha shear belts. These belts are characterized by heterogeneous shear fabrics and asymmetrical or overturned folds. Sentinel-1, Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR), Advanced Space borne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), and Sentinel-2 are used herein to explicate the regional structural control of gold mineralization in the Barramiya–Mueilha sector. Feature-oriented Principal Components Selection (FPCS) applied to polarized backscatter ratio images of Sentinel-1 and PALSAR datasets show appreciable capability in tracing along the strike of regional structures and identification of potential dilation loci. The principal component analysis (PCA), band combination and band ratioing techniques are applied to the multispectral ASTER and Sentinel-2 datasets for lithological and hydrothermal alteration mapping. Ophiolites, island arc rocks, and Fe-oxides/hydroxides (ferrugination) and carbonate alteration zones are discriminated by using the PCA technique. Results of the band ratioing technique showed gossan, carbonate, and hydroxyl mineral assemblages in ductile shear zones, whereas irregular ferrugination zones are locally identified in the brittle shear zones. Gold occurrences are confined to major zones of fold superimposition and transpression along flexural planes in the foliated ophiolite-island arc belts. In the granitoid-gabbroid terranes, gold-quartz veins are rather controlled by fault and brittle shear zones. The uneven distribution of gold occurrences coupled with the variable recrystallization of the auriferous quartz veins suggests multistage gold mineralization in the area. Analysis of the host structures assessed by the remote sensing results denotes vein formation spanning the time–space from early transpression to late orogen collapse during the protracted tectonic evolution of the belt.


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