Polymetallic Sulfide–Quartz Vein System in the Koudiat Aïcha Massive Sulfide Deposit, Jebilet Massif, Morocco : Microanalytical and Fluid Inclusion Approaches

The Koudiat Aïcha Zn-Cu-Pb deposit (3–Mt ore @ 3 wt.% Zn, 1 wt.% Pb, 0.6 wt.% Cu) in the Jebilet massif (Morocco) comprises stratabound lenticular orebodies and crosscutting sulfide-bearing quartz ± carbonate veins in the lower Carboniferous Sarhlef volcano sedimentary succession. The veins are characterized by abundant pyrrhotite, sphalerite, subordinate chalcopyrite and galena and rare Ag and Au minerals. The stratabound massive sulfide ores are attributed to a “VMS” type, whereas the origin of the sulfide–quartz ± carbonate veins remains poorly understood. New mineralogical and microanalytical data (SEM, EPMA and LA-ICP-MS) combined with fluid inclusion results point to two-stage vein formation. The early stage involved C–H–O–N Variscan metamorphic fluids which percolated through fractures and shear zones and deposited pyrite at >400 °C, followed by the formation of pyrrhotite and sphalerite (300 ± 20 °C) in quartz veins and in banded and breccia ores. The pyrrhotite–sphalerite mineralization was overprinted by aqueous brines (34 to 38 wt% eq. NaCl + CaCl2) that precipitated carbonate and Cu-Pb sulfides (±Ag-Au) at ~180–210 °C through mixing with low-salinity fluids during tectonic reworking of early-formed structures and in late extension fractures. The latter ore fluids were similar to widspread post-Variscan evaporitic brines that circulated in the Central Jebilet. Overlapping or successive pulses of different ore fluids, i.e., metamorphic fluids and basinal brines, led to metal enrichment in the quartz–carbonate veins compared to the massive sulfide ores. These results underscore that even a single deposit may record several distinct mineralizing styles, such that the ultimate metal endowment may be cumulative over multiple stages.


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