EGU21-10571
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10571
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Unravelling the origin of placer gold: A case study on the largest Roman gold mining sector of NW Spain (Jamuz, León)

Javier Fernández-Lozano1, José María Esbrí2, Ignacio Garrido3, Rosa María Carrasco4, Javier Pedraza5, Antonio Bernardo-Sánchez6, and Pablo Higueras2
Javier Fernández-Lozano et al.
  • 1Prospecting and Mining Research Area, Higher Technical School of Mining Engineering, University of León, 24071 León, Spain (jferl@unileon.es)
  • 2Applied Geoscience Institute. University of Castilla-La Mancha. 13400 Almadén, Ciudad Real, Spain (josemaria.esbri@uclm.es) (pablo.higueras@uclm.es)
  • 3Department of Applied Mechanical, Faculty of Architecture, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Avenida Carlos III s/n, 45071 Toledo, Spain (ignacio.garrido@uclm.es)
  • 4Department of Geological Engineering and Mining, Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Avenida Carlos III s/n, 45071 Toledo, Spain (rosa.carrasco@uclm.es)
  • 5Department of Geodynamics, Stratigraphy and Paleontology, Faculty of Geological Science, Complutense University of Madrid, C/José Antonio Novais, 12, 28040 Madrid, Spain (javierp@ucm.es)
  • 6Mining Exploitation Area, Higher Technical School of Mining Engineering, University of León, 24071 León, Spain (antonio.bernardo@unileon.es)

NW Iberia hosts a substantial number of mineral resources. Among them, gold (Au) acquired particular relevance since Antiquity, representing one of the largest Roman Au mining provinces in Europe. While primary deposits associated with orogenic Au have been widely studied in the past years, the Plio-Quaternary Raña Au-bearing placer deposits of the western Duero Basin have received little attention. Besides, the different morphology of Au particles suggests complex processes that may have been responsible for the secondary formation of colloidal particles and Au growth grains from complex geochemical soil interactions and biological activity. In this context, exploring the mechanism by means these secondary deposits developed may contribute to understanding the source of Au (extrinsic or intrinsic factors that rule in within Raña deposits) and the formation of potential mineral exploration sectors. This paper outlines the geochemical analysis of a Cenozoic Raña-like deposit in the Jamuz valley (León), where the source of Au and the main characteristics are established. The correlation matrix showed notable relationships between Au, Fe, Na, K, Ca, Pb and As, among the most important. High values in Fe and As provides direct evidence of Au precipitation. Likewise, a non-linear correlation was found between Au-Na, and Au-Ca, suggesting a direct link to soil formation processes. Finally, the presence of apparent differences in grain roundness and the particles' characteristics ranging from monomineral angular Au to polymineral rounded-shaped particles points towards a complex process affecting the Raña deposits. The ubiquitous rubefaction and top-bottom leaching activity produced during rainwater percolation aided by the extreme drainage affecting this conglomeratic formation have often been argued to be responsible for the transformation of mineral phases in soils. The presence of secondary silicification processes and pH drop due to biological reactions (i.e., presence of P) may have been a triggering mechanism for digestion and reprecipitation of Au colloids in these sediments. Our results have outstanding implications on the mechanisms that may determine the Au enrichment of certain levels within the Raña deposits of the western Duero Basin.

This work was funded by the wine company “Fuentes del Silencio”.

How to cite: Fernández-Lozano, J., Esbrí, J. M., Garrido, I., Carrasco, R. M., Pedraza, J., Bernardo-Sánchez, A., and Higueras, P.: Unravelling the origin of placer gold: A case study on the largest Roman gold mining sector of NW Spain (Jamuz, León), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10571, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10571, 2021.

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