The genesis of gold mineralisation hosted by orogenic belts: A lead isotope investigation of Irish gold deposits

C. D. Standish*, B. Dhuime, R. J. Chapman, C. J. Hawkesworth, A. W G Pike

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Lead isotope analyses have been performed on 109 gold and 23 sulphide samples from 34 Irish gold occurrences, including 27 placers, and used to shed light on the sources of mineralising fluids and metals associated with gold mineralisation hosted by orogenic belts. The Pb isotope ratios of lode and placer gold range from 206Pb/204Pb=17.287-18.679, 207Pb/204Pb=15.382-15.661, and 208Pb/204Pb=37.517-38.635, consistent with the Pb isotopic data on previously reported Irish sulphide mineralisation. There is no evidence that gold mineralisation is associated with distinctive source regions, and it appears to have been derived from similar sources to those responsible for the widespread sulphide mineralisation in Ireland. It is inferred that the principal controls on the Au mineralisation are structural and not related to the distribution of Au in their source rocks. The range of Pb isotope ratios favours the interaction of multiple source reservoirs predominantly during the Caledonian Orogeny (c. 475-380Ma). Underlying basement was the primary control on two key sources of Pb. Gold occurrences located to the south-east of the Iapetus Suture are characterised by Pb compositions that derive predominantly from the Late Proterozoic crustal basement or overlying Lower Palaeozoic sediments, whilst those located north-west of the Iapetus Suture are characterised by less radiogenic Pb signatures derived predominantly from Late Proterozoic or older crustal basement. A third source, relatively enriched in radiogenic Pb, also played a role in the formation of a number of Irish gold occurrences, and may have been associated with syn- to post-orogenic intrusives. Magmatic processes may therefore have played an important role in the formation of some orogenic gold occurrences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-51
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2014


  • Gold
  • Ireland
  • Lead isotopes
  • Lode
  • Orogenic belts
  • Placer


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