Episodic modes of operation in hydrothermal gold systems: Part I. Deformation, mineral reactions and chaos
Alison Ord, Bruce E. Hobbs, 2018. "Episodic modes of operation in hydrothermal gold systems: Part I. Deformation, mineral reactions and chaos", Characterization of Ore-Forming Systems from Geological, Geochemical and Geophysical Studies, K. Gessner, T.G. Blenkinsop, P. Sorjonen-Ward
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Episodic fluctuations in fluid pressure and temperature are characteristic of the behaviour of orogenic gold systems and are commonly attributed to processes external to the system, such as seismic events and associated adiabatic fault valve or suction pump/piston behaviour; any temperature changes are attributed to the adiabatic nature of the process. Such processes are commonly associated with fluctuations in fluid pressure with little, if any, changes in temperature. We describe aseismic, non-adiabatic processes internal to the hydrothermal system that lead to episodic modes of temperature and fluid pressure behaviour and the deposition of gold. These gold deposition processes are essentially controlled by localized changes in temperature; such temperature-dependent gold deposition processes are normally thought of as inconsequential. We propose that internal episodic behaviour is fundamental in hydrothermal mineralizing systems associated with orogenic gold deposits. Importantly, the time period for these hydrothermal events appears to be small relative to metamorphic systems, with 1–2 myr as an upper limit. This has important ramifications for rates of heat production and for the resultant kinetics of mineral reactions during alteration and mineralization. We explore these systems as non-linear, non-equilibrium dynamic, open flow systems.
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Economically viable concentrations of mineral resources are uncommon in Earth’s crust. Most ore deposits that were mined in the past or are currently being extracted were found at or near Earth’s surface, often serendipitously. To meet the future demand for mineral resources, exploration success hinges on identifying targets at depth. Achieving this requires accurate and informed models of the Earth’s crust that are consistent with all available geological, geochemical and geophysical information, paired with an understanding of how ore-forming systems relate to Earth’s evolving structure. Contributions to this volume address the future resources challenge by (i) applying advanced microscale geochemical detection and characterization methods, (ii) introducing more rigorous 3D Earth models, (iii) exploring critical behaviour and coupled processes, (iv) evaluating the role of geodynamic and tectonic setting and (v) applying 3D structural models to characterize specific ore-forming systems.