Abstract

In conjunction with the Lithoprobe southern Canadian Cordillera program, an extensive examination of geochemical indicators of origins, movement, chemical evolution, and economic significance of paleocrustal fluids was conducted. The study area covers approximately 360 000 km2from the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver Island. Research incorporated petrological, mineralogical, fluid-inclusion, δ18O, δD, δ13C, and Rb/Sr studies of samples of quartz ± carbonate veins and other rock types. The results of the study document a variety of pre-, syn-, and postorogenic, crustal fluid events. In the Rockies, a major pre-Laramide hydrothermal event was identified, which was comprised of a west to east migration of warm, saline brines. This was followed by a major circulation of meteoric water in the Rockies during Laramide uplift. In the southern Omineca extensional zone, convecting surface fluids penetrated to the brittle–ductile transition at 350–450 °C and locally into the underlying more ductile rocks. A principal conclusion of the study is that most quartz ± carbonate veins in metamorphic rocks in the southern Canadian Cordillera precipitated from deeply converted surface fluids. This conclusion supports a surface fluid convection model for the genesis of mesothermal Au–quartz veins, common in greenschist-facies rocks worldwide. The combination of our geochemical results with the results of other Lithoprobe studies indicates that widespread and deep convection of surface fluids in rocks undergoing active metamorphism is a commonplace phenomena in extensional settings, while in compressional-thrust settings the depth of penetration of surface fluids is more limited.

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