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Abstract

Large igneous provinces (LIPs) represent significant reservoirs of energy and metals that can either drive or contribute to a variety of metallogenic systems. The relationships between LIPs and these various systems can be divided into four distinct although partially overlapping classifications: (1) LIPs form the primary source of commodities within mineral deposits (e.g., orthomagmatic Ni-Cu-PGE sulfides, or Nb-Ta-REE and diamonds for often LIP-related carbonatites and kimberlites, respectively); (2) LIPs either provide the energy to drive hydrothermal systems or can act as source rocks for hydrothermal ore deposits (e.g., volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits)—in some cases LIP rocks can also act as barriers to fluid flow and/or reaction zones causing mineralization (e.g., orogenic Au); (3) weathering can concentrate elements such as Al and Ni-Co within laterites that develop from exposed LIP mafic-ultramafic rocks in tropical climates, and for Nb, Ta, and REE in laterites from associated carbonatites; and (4) indirect links exist between LIPs and ore deposits; here we consider two of these types of links, the first of which involves LIP events that are linked to attempted or successful continental breakup where the LIP barcode record can be used as a correlation tool for reconstructing Precambrian supercontinents and therefore enable the tracing of metallogenic belts between presently separated, but formerly contiguous crustal blocks. A second, more speculative, indirect link is provided by the fact that major continental breakup (linked to LIPs) is associated with distal compression and transpression in the plate tectonic circuit (and the formation of orogenic deposits, such as Au).

We discuss the role of LIPs (be it major or contributory) in each of these classifications for the generation of this wide variety of differing mineral deposit types and potential implications of this link between LIPs and metallogenesis for exploration strategies. This review shows how our understanding of LIPs, and the processes that affect LIP magmas and rocks, have direct consequences for mineral exploration and economic geology.

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