Abstract

Mesothermal gold provinces of Phanerozoic age are characteristically associated with regional structures along which allochthonous terranes have been accreted onto continental margins or arcs. A recurring sequence of transpressive deformation, uplift, late kinematic mineralization, and shoshonitic magmatism is consistent with thermal reequilibration of tectonically thickened crust. Mesothermal gold camps in the Superior province are spatially associated with large-scale structures that have been interpreted as zones of transpressive accretion of individual subprovinces or allochthonous terranes: these boundary structures are characterized by the sequence of significant horizontal shortening, uplift, late-kinematic mineralization, and shoshonitic lamprophyres and therefore may have the same geodynamic significance as Phanerozoic counterparts. In this model, thermal re-equilibration of underplated and subducted oceanic lithosphere and sediments in a transpressive regime, over time scales of 10 to 40 m.y., is a necessary precursor to gold mineralization. Hydrothermal fluids are released along boundary faults and their splays during uplift: the uniform temperature, low salinity and mole% CO2 signify uniform source conditions, whereas the variable O, C, Sr, and Pb isotopic compositions of fluids reflect lithological complexity of the source regions and conduits. Ou the basis of this model it is suggested that mesothermal lode gold deposits are the product of subduction-related crustal underplating and deep, late metamorphism, rather than magmatic or metamorphic events in the supracrustal rocks. Secular variations in the generation of Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic mesothermal Au provinces reflect the timing of collisional orogenies within terranes of these eras.

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