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Book Chapter

Geological, Paleontological, and Tectonic Studies

January 01, 1983


This paper consists of three parts. The first is an overview of the geologic history of the Green Tuff region where all Kuroko deposits occur. The second part presents a description of the stratigraphy and an interpretation of the structural and igneous history of the Hokuroku district, the most important Kuroko mining district. The third part is an analysis of the role of submarine calderas in Kuroko genesis.

The sequence and causes of the major geologic events that have occurred in Japan and its vicinity since the Cretaceous are interpreted as follows: (1) an active but shallow-dipping north-northwestward subduction of the Pacific plate under the Asian continent during a period from approximately 130 to 65 m.y. ago resulted in ilmenite series magmatism in the outer zone of Japan, then still a part of mainland Asia; (2) about 65 to 40 m.y. ago, the direction of the subducted Pacific plate changed to westward and the angle of subduction steepened, initiating back-arc spreading in the Japan basin province and migration of Japan away from the Asian mainland until about 30 m.y. ago; (3) during the period 65 to 30 m.y. ago, the basaltic crust created in the Japan basin province was subducted eastward under the Yamato Ridge province, resulting in calc-alkaline and magnetite series igneous activity in the inner zone of Japan; (4) about 25 m.y. ago, the first sea (proto-Japan Sea) was formed in the Japan basin province as a result of the eustatic rise of the sea following cessation of spreading there about 30 m.y. ago; (5) back-arc spreading was active in the Yamato basin province during the period between 25 and 5 m.y. ago, cansing bimodal volcanism and subsidence in the flanking Inner Honshu and Yamato Ridge provinces [the Hokuroku basin (i.e., a Kuroko-bearing basin), Niigata oil field basin, and Akita oil field basin were all fault-bounded, deep (>2,500 m) marine basins created by rapid subsidence of crustal blocks within a few million years around 17 m.y. ago, although Kuroko mineralization and the accumulation of organic matter were not synchronous]; and (6) the dip of the subducted Pacific plate returned to a shallow angle about 5 m.y. ago, causing the cessation of back-arc spreading and the initiation of subsidence of the Yamato basin province and uplift of the flanking Inner Japan and Yamato Ridge provinces. The Green Tuff activity is, therefore, synonymous with the tectonic and igneous activity that accompanied the formation of the Japan Sea and the Japanese islands during the period from ~65 m.y. ago to the present.

The sequence of events in the Hokuroku district is interpreted as follows: (1) andesitic volcanism and gradual subsidence from near-shore to shallow (<500 m) sea during the period from 30(?) to 17 m.y. ago; (2) major subsidence along high-angle normal faults to a depth around 3,500 m below sea level, accompanied by fissure eruptions of basalts and minor felsic volcanics, about 17 m.y. ago; (3) another subsidence shortly afterward that completed the Hokuroku basin configuration (ca. 30 X 40 km); (4) major eruption of felsic volcanics and formation of seven calderas (4-8 km diam) and Kuroko deposits during the period from 16 to 11 m.y. ago; (5) minor bimodal volcanism and deposition of mudstones and tuffs from 11 to ca. 5 m.y. ago; and (6) differential uplift of crustal blocks, creation of smaller basins, broad folding, and a return of andesitic volcanism from ca. 5 m.y. ago to the present.

Creation of submarine calderas is suggested to be a critical factor in the formation of Kuroko deposits, primarily because caldera depressions become the focal areas of discharging hydro-thernial fluids.

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Economic Geology Monograph Series

The Kuroko and Related Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide Deposits

Hiroshi Ohmoto
Hiroshi Ohmoto
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Brian J. Skinner
Brian J. Skinner
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Society of Economic Geologists
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 1983




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