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Sudbury Complex - Frood, Stobie, Creighton, Strathcona, Fraser, Craig, Onaping, Levack, Murray, etc.

Ontario, Canada

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The Sudbury sulphide nickel deposits are located within the basal layer of the roughly oval shaped 65x25 km, 1.85 Ga Sudbury Igneous Complex (SIC) in south-western Ontario, Canada.

This complex cuts both Archaean rocks on the southern margin of the Superior Province, and the Lower Proterozoic of the Huronian Supergroup. It is also less than 10 km to the north of the 1.2 to 1.0 Ga Grenville Front, and lies on a regional, 350 km long zone of linear gravity and magnetic anomalies. It is overlain by the Lower Proterozoic Whitewater Group, an older sequence consisting of an upward progression of conformable heterolithic breccias, a carbonaceous and pyritic argillite and a proximal turbidite unit which occupies a basin shaped structure and is only found with the oval shaped outcrop zone of the SIC.

The complex dips inward throughout at around 30 degrees and is composed of a sequence of norite, gabbros and granophyres. It comprises two main zones, a lower 500 to 2500m thick Lower Zone of norite and gabbro-norite, grading upwards into quartz- and oxide rich gabbro. The Upper Zone is 1 to 2500 m thick and is mainly a granophyre, with an abruptly transitional margin with the underlying quartz-rich gabbro. The granophyre intrudes the basal Whitewater Group. There is no obvious small scale layering within the complex. A third discontinuous layer is found at the base of the SIC, particularly in embayments into the footwall rocks. This is called the "Sublayer" and contains all of the major Ni-Cu sulphide deposits. The contact with the base of the Lower zone varies from sharp to gradational. It has two facies, namely:   i). the Contact Sublayer that is usually <200m thick and composed of discontinuous lenses of gabbro-norite along the basal contact of the SIC, and   ii). the Offset Sublayer that constitutes apophyses or dykes of predominantly quartz-diorite that project outwards into the intruded footwall rocks.

A contact metamorphic halo around 1200 m thick occurs in the footwall rocks which have been brecciated for up to 80 km from the complex - the Sudbury Breccia. The composition of the SIC is strongly influenced by the crustal rocks, with a differing succession through the complex to the north where it cuts the Archaean of the Superior Province - the North Range, and the southern side - the South Range where it intrudes the Lower Proterozoic of the Huronian Supergroup. Differences are also noted in the ores in the two ranges.

There are three main ore types, namely:   i). Contact type massive sulphides in the noritic Sublayer, with a lower layer of massive sulphide enclosing angular wall rock fragments and stringers extending into the footwall, while upwards the massive sulphides grade into a sulphide-matrix breccia and finally to disseminated sulphides;   ii). stockworks of more Cu rich ore in the Sudbury Breccia of the footwall, comprising massive stringers and lenses oriented parallel to the dip of the SIC;   iii). deposits associated with Offset Dykes of quartz-diorite that are sub-radial to sub-parallel to the margins of the SIC, with sulphides present as either lenticular zones of sulphide blebs, or as sheaths of sulphide bleb bearing quartz-diorite or Sudbury Breccia on the margin of the dykes.

The main ores are composed of pyrrhotite, pentlandite, chalcopyrite, pyrite and magnetite. Bornite is locally present in higher grade zones, while higher arsenic as arsenides characterises the South Range. The copper rich veins deep in the footwall are dominated by chalcopyrite and cubanite with lesser pentlandite, magnetite and pyrrhotite.

The Sudbury Complex contained around 1650 Mt @ 1.2% Ni, 1.03% Cu.

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this summary was dated: 2000.    
This description is a summary from published sources, the chief of which are listed below.
© Copyright Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd.   Unauthorised copying, reproduction, storage or dissemination prohibited.


  References & Additional Information
   Selected References:
Ames D E, Davidson A and Wodicka N,  2008 - Geology of the Giant Sudbury Polymetallic Mining Camp, Ontario, Canada: in    Econ. Geol.   v.103 pp. 1057-1077
Ames D E, Golightly J P, Lightfoor P C, Gibson H L  2002 - Vitric compositions in the Onaping Formation and their relationship to the Sudbury Igneous Complex, Sudbury Structure : in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1541-1562
Bailey J, Lafrance B, McDonald A M, Fedorowich J S, Kamo S and Archibald D A  2004 - Mazatzal–Labradorian-age (1.7–1.6 Ga) ductile deformation of the South Range Sudbury impact structure at the Thayer Lindsley mine, Ontario: in    Can. J. Earth Sci.   v41 pp 1491-1505
Begg, G.C., Hronsky, J.A.M., Arndt, N.T., Griffin, W.L., O Reilly, S.Y. and Hayward, N.,  2010 - Lithospheric, Cratonic, and Geodynamic Setting of Ni-Cu-PGE Sulfide Deposits: in    Econ. Geol.   v.105, pp. 1057-1070.
Beswick A E  2002 - An analysis of compositional variations and spatial relations within Fe-Ni-Cu Sulfide deposits on the North Range of the Sudbury Igneous Complex: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1487-1508
Boast M and Spray J G,  2006 - Superimposition of a Thrust-Transfer Fault System on a Large Impact Structure: Implications for Ni-Cu-PGE Exploration at Sudbury: in    Econ. Geol.   v101 pp 1583-1594
Card K D, Gupta V K, McGrath P H,  1984 - The Sudbury Structure: Its Regional Geological and Geophysical Setting: in Pye E G, Naldrett A J, Giblin P E (Eds),  The Geology & Ore Deposits of the Sudbury Structure Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 1 pp 25-43
Cawthorn R G  2005 - Contrasting sulphide contents of the Bushveld and Sudbury Igneous Complexes: in    Mineralium Deposita   v40 pp 1-12
Coats C J A, Snajdr P  1984 - Ore Deposits of the North Range, Onaping-Levack Area, Sudbury: in Pye E G, Naldrett A J, Giblin P E (Eds),  The Geology & Ore Deposits of the Sudbury Structure Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 1 pp 327-346
Cochrane L B   1984 - Ore Deposits of the Copper Cliff Offset: in Pye E G, Naldrett A J, Giblin P E (Eds),  The Geology & Ore Deposits of the Sudbury Structure Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 1 pp 347-359
Corfu F, Lightfoot P C  1996 - U-Pb geochronology of the sublayer environment, Sudbury igneous complex, Ontario: in    Econ. Geol.   v91 pp 1263-1269
Dare S A S, Barnes S-J, Prichard H M and Fisher P C,  2010 - The Timing and Formation of Platinum-Group Minerals from the Creighton Ni-Cu-Platinum-Group Element Sulfide Deposit, Sudbury, Canada: Early Crystallization of PGE-Rich Sulfarsenides: in    Econ. Geol.   v.105 pp. 1071-1096
Dare S A S, Barnes S-J, Prichard H M and Fisher P C,  2014 - Mineralogy and Geochemistry of Cu-Rich Ores from the McCreedy East Ni-Cu-PGE Deposit (Sudbury, Canada): Implications for the Behavior of Platinum Group and Chalcophile Elements at the End of Crystallization of a Sulfide Liquid : in    Econ. Geol.   v.109 pp. 343-366
Davis G C,  1984 - Little Stobie Mine: A South Range Contact Deposit: in Pye E G, Naldrett A J, Giblin P E (Eds.),   The Geology & Ore Deposits of the Sudbury Structure Ontario Geological Survey    Spec. Vol. 1 pp 361-369
Dressler B O  1984 - The General Geology of the Sudbury Area: in Pye E G, Naldrett A J, Giblin P E (Eds),  The Geology & Ore Deposits of the Sudbury Structure Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 1  pp 57-82
Farrow C E G, Watkinson D H,  1999 - An Evaluation of the Role of Fluids in Ni-Cu-PGE-Bearing, Mafic-Ultramafic Systems: in Keays R R, Lesher C M, Lightfoot P C, Farrow C E G, (Eds),  Dynamic Processes in Magmatic Ore Deposits and their Application in Mineral Exploration Geological Association of Canada, Short Course Notes   v13 pp 31-67
Fedorowich J S, Parrish R R and Sager-Kinsman A,  2006 - U-Pb Dating of a Diabase Dike Resolves the Problem of Mutually Crosscutting Relationships within the Fraser-Strathcona Deep Copper Vein System, Sudbury Basin: in    Econ. Geol.   v101 pp 1595-1603
Giroux L A and Benn K,  2005 - Emplacement of the Whistle Dike, the Whistle Embayment and Hosted Sulfides, Sudbury Impact Structure, Based on Anisotropies of Magnetic Susceptibility and Magnetic Remanence: in    Econ. Geol.   v100 pp 1207-1227
Hanley J J and Bray C J,  2009 - The trace metal content of amphibole as a proximity indicator for Cu-Ni-PGE mineralization in the footwall of the Sudbury Igneous Complex, Ontario, Canada: in    Econ. Geol.   v104 pp 113-125
Hanley J J, Mungall J E  2003 - Chlorine enrichment and hydrous alteration of the Sudbury Breccia hosting footwall Cu-Ni-PGE mineralization at the Fraser mine, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada: in    The Canadian Mineralogist   v41 pp 857-881
Hanley J J, Mungall J E, Pettke T, Spooner E T C and Bray C J  2005 - Ore metal redistribution by hydrocarbon-brine and hydrocarbon-halide melt phases, North Range footwall of the Sudbury Igneous Complex, Ontario, Canada: in    Mineralium Deposita   v40 pp 237-256
Huminicki M A E, Sylvester P J, Cabri L J, Lesher C M and Tubrett M,  2005 - Quantitative Mass Balance of Platinum Group Elements in the Kelly Lake Ni-Cu-PGE Deposit, Copper Cliff Offset, Sudbury: in    Econ. Geol.   v100 pp 1631-1646
Keays R R, Lightfoot P C  1999 - The Role of Meteorite Impact, Source Rocks, Protores and Mafic Magmas in the Genesis of the Sudbury Ni-Cu-PGE Sulphide Ore Deposits: in Keays R R, Lesher C M, Lightfoot P C, Farrow C E G, (Eds),  Dynamic Processes in Magmatic Ore Deposits and their Application in Mineral Exploration Geological Association of Canada, Short Course Notes   v13 pp 329-366
Klimczak C, Wittek A, Doman D and Riller U,  2007 - Fold origin of the NE-lobe of the Sudbury Basin, Canada: Evidence from heterogeneous fabric development in the Onaping Formation and the Sudbury Igneous Complex: in    J. of Structural Geology   v29 pp 1744-1756
Li C, Naldrett A J, Coats C J A, Johannessen P  1992 - Platinum, Palladium, Gold, and Copper-rich stringers at the Strathcona Mine, Sudbury: their enrichment by fractionation of a Sulfide liquid: in    Econ. Geol.   v87 pp 1584-1598
Lightfoot P C,  2007 - Advances in Ni-Cu-PGE Sulphide Deposit Models and Implications for Exploration Technologies: in Milkereit B, 2007 Proceedings of Exploration 07: Fifth Decennial International Conference on Mineral Exploration Decennial Mineral Exploration Conferences, Toronto, Canada,    pp. 629-646
Lightfoot P C, Farrow C E G  2002 - Geology, geochemistry and mineralogy of the Worthington Offset Dike: a genetic model for offset dike mineralization in the Sudbury Igneous Complex: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1419-1446
Lightfoot P C, Keays R R, Doherty W  2001 - Chemical evolution and origin of Nickel Sulfide mineralization in the Sudbury Igneous Complex, Ontario, Canada: in    Econ. Geol.   v96 pp 1855-1875
Lightfoot P C, Keays R R, Morrison G G, Bite A, Farrell K P  1997 - Geochemical relationships in the Sudbury igneous complex: origin of the main mass and offset dikes: in    Econ. Geol.   v92 pp 289-307
Lightfoot P C, Keays R R, Morrison G G, Bite A, Farrell K P  1997 - Geologic and geochemical relationships between contact sublayer, inclusions and the main mass of the Sudbury Igneous Complex: a case study of the Whistle Mine embayment: in    Econ. Geol.   v92 pp 647-673
Magyarosi Z, Watkinson D H, Jones P C  2002 - Mineralogy of Ni-Cu-Platinum-Group Element Sulfide ore in the 800 and 810 orebodies, Copper Cliff South Mine, and P-T-X conditions during the formation of Platinum-Group minerals: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1471-1486
McCormick K A, Fedorowich J S, McDonald A M, James R S  2002 - A textural mineralogical and statistical study of the footwall breccia within the Strathcona embayment of the Sudbury structure: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 125-143
McCormick K A, Lesher C M, McDonald A M, Fedorowich J S, James R S  2002 - Chlorine and Alkali geochemical halos in the footwall breccia and sublayer Norite at the margin of the Strathcona Embayment, Sudbury structure, Ontario: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1509-1519
McNamara, G.S., Lesher, C.M. and Kamber, B.S.,  2017 - New Feldspar Lead Isotope and Trace Element Evidence from the Sudbury Igneous Complex Indicate a Complex Origin of Associated Ni-Cu-PGE Mineralization Involving Underlying Country Rocks: in    Econ. Geol.   v.112, pp. 569-590.
Molnar F, Watkinson D H, Jones P C  2001 - Mutiple hydrothermal processes in footwall units of the North Range, Sudbury Igneous Complex, Canada and implications for the genesis of vein-type Cu-Ni-PGE deposits: in    Econ. Geol.   v96 pp 1645-1670
Molnar F, Watkinson D H, Jones P C, Gatter I  1997 - Fluid inclusion evidence for hydrothermal enrichment of magmatic ore at the contact zone of the Ni-Cu-Platinum-Group Element 4b Deposit, Lindsley Mine, Sudbury, Canada: in    Econ. Geol.   v92 pp 674-685
Moore C M, Nikolic S  1994 - The Craig Deposit, Sudbury, Ontario: in Lightfoot P C, Naldrett A j (Eds),  Proceedings of the Sudbury - Norilsk Symposium Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 5 pp 77-90
Morrison G G, Jago B C, White T L  1994 - Footwall Mineralisation of the Sudbury Igneous Complex: in Lightfoot P C, Naldrett A j (Eds),  Proceedings of the Sudbury - Norilsk Symposium Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 5 pp 57-64
Mukwakwami J, Lesher C M and Lafrance B,  2014 - Geochemistry of Deformed and Hydrothermally Mobilized Magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE Ores at the Garson Mine, Sudbury : in    Econ. Geol.   v.109 pp. 367-386
Mungall J E  2002 - Late-stage Sulfide liquid mobility in the main mass of the Sudbury Igneous Complex: examples from the Victor Deep, McCreedy East, and Trillabelle deposits: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1563-1576
Mungall J E,  2007 - Crystallization of magmatic sulfides: An empirical model and application to Sudbury ores: in    Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta   v71 pp 2809-2819
Murphy A J, Spray J G  2002 - Geology, mineralization and emplacement of the Whistle-Parkin Offset Dike, Sudbury: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1399-1418
Naldrett A J, Pessaran R, Asif M and Li C,  1994 - Compositional Variation in the Sudbury Ores and Prediction of the Proximity of Footwall Copper-PGE Orebodies: in Naldrett A J, Lightfoot P C and Sheahan P (Eds),    The Sudbury - Norilsk Symposium Ontario Geological Survey    Special Vol. 5 pp 133-143
Naldrett A J, Asif M, Schandl E, Searcy T  1999 - Platinum-group elements in the Sudbury ores: significance with respect to the origin of different ore zones and to the exploration for footwall orebodies: in    Econ. Geol.   v94 pp 185-210
Naldrett A J, Bray J G, Gasparrini T and Rucklidge J C,  1970 - Cryptic variation and the petrology of the Sudbury Nickel Irruptive: in    Econ. Geol.   v65 pp 122-155
Naldrett A J, Hewins R H  1984 - The Main Mass of the Sudbury Igneous Complex: in Pye E G, Naldrett A J, Giblin P E (Eds),  The Geology & Ore Deposits of the Sudbury Structure Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 1 pp 235-251
Naldrett A J, Hewins R H, Dressler B O,  1984 - The Contact Sublayer of the Sudbury Igneous Complex: in Pye E G, Naldrett A J, Giblin P E (Eds),   The Geology & Ore Deposits of the Sudbury Structure Ontario Geological Survey   Spec. Vol. 1 pp 253-274
Pentek A, Molnar F, Tuba G, Watkinson D H and Jones P C,  2013 - The Significance of Partial Melting Processes in Hydrothermal Low Sulfide Cu-Ni-PGE Mineralization Within the Footwall of the Sudbury Igneous Complex, Ontario, Canada : in    Econ. Geol.   v.108 pp. 59-78
Prevec S A, Cowan D R and Cooper G R J  2005 - Geophysical evidence for a pre-impact Sudbury dome, southern Superior Province, Canada: in    Can. J. Earth Sci.   v42 pp 1-9
Rousell D H, Fedorowich J S, Dressler B O  2003 - Sudbury Breccia (Canada): a product of the 1850 Ma Sudbury Event and host to footwall Cu-Ni-PGE deposits: in    Earth Science Reviews   v60 pp 147-174
Scott R G, Benn K  2002 - Emplacement of Sulfide deposits in the Copper Cliff Offset Dike during collapse of the Sudbury crater rim: evidence from magnetic fabric studies: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1447-1458
Song, X., Wang, Y. and Chen, L.,  2011 - Magmatic Ni-Cu-(PGE) deposits in magma plumbing systems: Features, formation and exploration: in    Geoscience Frontiers   v.2, pp. 375-384.
Szentpeteri K, Watkinson D H, Molnar F, Jones P C  2002 - Platinum-Group-Elements-Co-Ni-Fe Sulfarsenides and mineral paragenesis in Cu-Ni-Platinum-Group Element deposits, Copper Cliff North area, Sudbury, Canada: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1459-1470
Therriault A M, Fowler A D, Grieve R A F  2002 - The Sudbury Igneous Complex: a differentiated impact melt sheet: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1521-1540
Tuchscherer M G, Spray J G  2002 - Geology, mineralization and emplacement of the Foy Offset Dike, Sudbury Impact Structure: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 1377-1397
Wustemann, T., Gollner, P., Lightfoot, P.C. and Riller, U.,  2019 - Genetic Relationship Between Postcratering Dynamics and Footwall Deposit Formation at Sudbury, Ontario, Canada: Importance for Sulfide Ore Exploration : in    Econ. Geol.   v.114, pp. 599-612.


Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd (PorterGeo) provides access to this database at no charge.   It is largely based on scientific papers and reports in the public domain, and was current when the sources consulted were published.   While PorterGeo endeavour to ensure the information was accurate at the time of compilation and subsequent updating, PorterGeo takes no responsibility what-so-ever for inaccurate or out of date data, information or interpretations.

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