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Abstract

A review of the structural zonation of the ‘oceanic’ Urals shows that only its westernmost Sakamara, Tagil and Magnitogorsk zones reveal the presence of thrust structures, whereas in the East Uralian megazone and Trans-Uralian zone, the classic zonation rather reflects late- or post-collisional granitic welding and strike-slip displacement of the orogen for 100–300 km. This sinistral strike-slip displacement is responsible for the lens-shapes structure of the individual zones in the Urals.

Metallogenically, these orogen-parallel faults and the eastern boundary of the East European craton control the distribution of the orogenic Au deposits. Restoration of the individual zones into their pre-strike-slip fault positions suggests that the Urals contains only two magmatic arcs, one in the west and one in the east. The western Tagil-Magnitogorsk immature arc hosts a variety of chromite, Alaska-type PGE and major VMS deposits. The eastern Valerianovka arc effectively stitches together the Kazakh-Tien Shan structures and is host to important copper-gold and giant iron(-copper) skarn deposits.

The geodynamic evolution of the Urals can be observed with the generation of the immature Tagil-Magnitogorsk magmatic arc in the Late Ordovician. Metallogenic zoning of the VMS deposits supports the petrological data that the arc developed due to eastward subduction inside the oceanic back-arc basin that existed in the rear of the Kazakhstan-Tien Shan arcs. In the late Palaeozoic, these arcs collided with each other and were together thrust onto the East European craton. Syncollisional granitoid intrusions welded the magmatic arcs, which were soon displaced into presently observed fragments along the post-collisional orogen-parallel strike-slip faults.

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