A new kind of invisible gold in pyrite hosted in deformation-related dislocations
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Mining of “invisible gold” associated with sulfides in gold ores represents a significant proportion of gold production worldwide. Gold hosted in sulfide minerals has been proposed to be structurally bound in the crystal lattice as a sulfide-gold alloy and/or to occur as discrete metallic nanoparticles. Using a combination of microstructural quantification and nanoscale geochemical analyses on a pyrite crystal from an orogenic gold deposit, we show that dislocations hosted in a deformation low-angle boundary can be enriched in Ni, Cu, As, Pb, Sb, Bi, and Au. The cumulative trace-element enrichment in the dislocations is 3.2 at% higher compared to the bulk crystal. We propose that trace elements were segregated during the migration of the dislocation following the dislocation-impurity pair model. The gold hosted in nanoscale dislocations represents a new style of invisible gold.
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