Abstract

On a world scale, the most important hydrothermal gold deposits occur either in Late Archean (ca. 2700 Ma) greenstone belts or at late Paleozoic to Quaternary convergent plate boundaries. In the latter environments, epithermal and porphyry-hosted deposits form during subduction-related magmatism in volcanic arcs, and deep-level meso- thermal deposits form during deformation in continental margin orogenic belts. The mesothermal deposits are similar to Archean gold deposits in greenstone belts such as the Norseman-Wiluna Belt in Western Australia. We here suggest that this similarity exists because the Norseman-Wiluna Belt is an orogenic belt with a tectonic history similar to that of younger mineralized convergent margins, such as the North American Cordillera. It is most likely that the Norseman-Wiluna Belt resulted from the interaction of lithospheric plates during the major period of continental growth and stabilization that occurred in the Late Archean, the distribution of gold mineralization being controlled by convergent margin tectonics.

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