Geological characteristics and ore-forming process of the gold deposits in the western Qinling region, China

Liu, Jiajun, Liu, Chonghao, Carranza, Emmanuel John M., Li, Yujie, Mao, Zhihao, Wang, Jianping, Wang, Yinhong, Zhang, Jing, Zhai, Degao, Zhang, Huafeng, Shan, Liang, Zhu, Laimin, and Lu, Rukui (2015) Geological characteristics and ore-forming process of the gold deposits in the western Qinling region, China. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 103. pp. 40-69.

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The western Qinling, belonging to the western part of the Qinling–Dabie–Sulu orogen between the North China Block and South China Block, is one of the most important gold regions in China. Isotopic dates suggest that the Mesozoic granitoids in the western Qinling region emplaced during the Middle-Late Triassic, and the deposits formed during the Late Triassic. Almost all gold deposits in the western Qinling region are classified as orogenic, Carlin-type, and Carlin-like gold deposits, and they are the products of Qinling Orogenesis caused by the final collision between the North China Block and the South China Block. The early subduction of the Mian-Lue oceanic crust and the latter collision between South Qinling Terrane and the South China Block along the Mian-Lue suture generated lithosphere-scale thermal anomalies to drive orogen-scale hydrothermal systems. The collision-related magmatism also provided heat source for regional ore-forming fluids in the Carlin-like gold deposits.

Orogenic gold deposits such as Huachanggou, Liziyuan, and Baguamiao lie between the Shang-Dan and Mian-Lue sutures and are confined to WNW-trending brittle-ductile shear zones in Devonian and Carboniferous greenschist-facies metasedimentary rocks that were highly-deformed and regionally-metamorphosed. These deposits are typical orogenic gold deposits and formed within a Late Triassic age. The deposits show a close relationship between Au and Ag. Ores contain mainly microscopic gold, and minor electrum and visible gold, along with pyrite. The ore-forming fluids were main metamorphic fluids. Intensive tectonic movements caused by orogenesis created fluid-migrating channels for precipitation locations. Although some orogenic gold deposits occur adjacent to granitoids, mineralization is not synchronous with magmatism; that is, the granitoids have no genetic relations to orogenic gold deposits. As ore-forming fluids converged into dilated fractures during the extension stage of orogenesis, changes of physico-chemical conditions resulted in fluid immiscibility that played a key role in gold and sulfide deposition.

The geochemical and mineralogical characteristics of the Carlin-type deposits in the western Qinling region are similar to those in the Carlin trend, Nevada, USA. Gold deposits such as La’erma and Jinlongshan occur mostly in the southeastern margin of the western Qinling regionic region whereas some deposits occur in its eastern part. These deposits are hosted in slightly metamorphosed Cambrian to Triassic sedimentary rocks, showing structurally- and stratigraphically-controlled features. The deposits mainly contain submicroscopic and microscopic gold in arsenian pyrite and arsenopyrite, with characteristic ore-forming elements of Au–As–Sb–Ba. The ore-forming fluids are early-stocked formation water and later-recharged meteoric water. Meteoric water apparently evolved in ore-forming fluids by circulation, indicating the extensional setting, and led to the deposition of Au and other elements in cool reactive permeable rocks at shallow levels, forming the disseminated ores.

Carlin-like gold deposits occur between the Shang-Dan suture and the Fengxian-Zhen’an fault. The host rocks are mainly sedimentary rocks that underwent reconstruction through reworking by structural metamorphism. These deposits are structurally controlled by brittle-ductile shear zone and occur adjacent to granitoid plutons. The most important characteristic that differ to the orogenic and Carlin-type gold deposits is the genetic relationship with the synchronous magmatism. Gold occurs mainly as microscopic gold. Pyrite and arsenian pyrite can be recognized as gold-bearing minerals. The ore-forming fluids are main magmatic water mixed with metamorphic and/or formation water. Similar to orogenic gold deposits, fluid immiscibility caused the deposition of gold Carlin-like gold deposits.

Item ID: 39055
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1878-5786
Keywords: Western Qinling region; geological characteristics; ore-forming process; gold deposit
Funders: National Natural Science Foundation of China (NNSF), Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education, China (SRF), Major Basic Research Program of People’s Republic of China (MBRP), China Geological Survey (CGS), Ministry of Education and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (ME)
Projects and Grants: NNSF Grant No. 41030423, SRF Grant No. 20130022110001, MBRP Grant No. 2014CB440903, NNSF Grant No. 41173062, NNSF Grant No. 40972071, CGS Grant No. 1212011220924, CGS Grant No. 1212011120354, ME Grant No. B07011
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2015 23:52
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0402 Geochemistry > 040203 Isotope Geochemistry @ 60%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040303 Geochronology @ 20%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040307 Ore Deposit Petrology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 80%
84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8401 Mineral Exploration > 840199 Mineral Exploration not elsewhere classified @ 20%
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