Geochemical and geochronological constraints on the gold-sulfide mineralization and host granitoid rocks in the Bulghah and Al-Maham prospects, central Arabian Shield, Saudi Arabia

Rami A. Bakhsh, Kamal A. Ali, Basem A. Zoheir, Lars Eivind Augland, Ahmed H. Ahmed, Holly J. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among several gold-sulfide deposits and prospects scattered in the Afif terrane of the Arabian Shield, the Bulghah and Al-Maham prospects are investigated to assess the spatial and temporal relationships between gold mineralization and the host lithologies and regional structures. Both prospects are hosted by the sulfide-bearing Hulayfah Group metavolcano-sedimentary successions, and are confined to cross-cutting granitoid intrusions. Tonalite-granodiorite and monzogranite from the two areas have geochemical characteristics of metaluminous to weakly peraluminous calc-alkaline I-type granitoids. Younger alkali feldspar granite in the Bulghah area exhibits geochemical features of A-type granite, likely formed in a post-collisional or transitional setting. ID-TIMS dating of zircons from two granodiorite samples from the Al-Maham prospect yielded 206Pb/238U ages of ∼662 and 651 Ma. A tonalite sample from the Bulghah mine area gave a concordia age of 674.8 ± 0.8 Ma (2σ; MSWD = 0.42), whereas the alkali feldspar granite sample has an age of ∼ 631 ± 1 Ma. The newly defined ages can be considered as the upper age limit of the auriferous quartz veins, evidently attendant to the Nabitah orogeny (∼680–640 Ma). Gold-bearing quartz veins in the two prospects are identical in terms of ore mineralogy, textures and paragenesis. Gold-bearing quartz veins are associated with intersecting veinlets and stockwork of arsenopyrite, pyrite, and less common pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, and sphalerite. Recrystallized pyrite and arsenopyrite are ubiquitous in quartz veins, whereas pyrrhotite-chalcopyrite intergrowths in-fills or replacements prevail in the deformed host metavolcanic rocks. Free gold typically occurs as fine inclusions in quartz veins, commonly in deformed pyrite and arsenopyrite crystals. The sulfides of Al-Maham prospect have significantly higher Re-Os concentrations (ppb level), compared with those in the Bulghah prospect, and define an isochron with a Model-1 age of 360 ± 2 Ma and an initial 187Os/188Os ratio of 1.962 ± 0.032. The obtained Re-Os age and the crustal initial Os isotope ratio do not necessarily define the primary age of gold mineralization since ore textures indicate that pyrrhotite was a paragenetically late sulfide phase in both prospects. Alternatively, this age may be interpreted as the time of remobilization and recrystallization of older sulfides in response to Hercynian uplift and deformation (370–290 Ma), manifested as intermittently rejuvenated reverse faults elsewhere in the Arabian Shield.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105004
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Afif terrane
  • Arabian Shield
  • Gold-sulfide mineralization, I-type and A-type granitoids
  • Re-Os isotope systematics
  • U-Pb zircon ages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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