Orogenic gold deposits contribute the largest proportion of the world’s gold reserves, and the source of their ore-forming components has been recognized as the metamorphic devolatilization of metapelites or metabasites across the greenschist- to amphibolite-facies transition. However, hypozonal orogenic gold deposits represent an enigma in this context. Some of these apparently formed in higher-grade metamorphic rocks when temperatures were beyond the wet solidus of quartz-feldspar−bearing rocks; it is therefore puzzling how these fluids were generated in the source and migrated through the crust without causing partial melting. Here, we show that devolatilization of hydrated komatiites, a volumetrically significant lithological unit in Precambrian greenstone belts, is a viable model that can plausibly lead to gold mineralization at amphibolite-facies conditions. Our thermodynamic simulations indicate that subsolidus metamorphic devolatilization of komatiites at ∼700 °C (upper amphibolite facies) can unlock significant amounts of gold via dehydration of talc and chlorite. This genetic model is supported by the geochemical characteristics of, and estimated pressure-temperature (P-T) formation conditions of, hypozonal gold deposits and the intimate spatiotemporal association between hypozonal deposits and komatiites in greenstone belts. This work expands the P-T range of the metamorphic devolatilization model and enhances its robustness in explaining gold mineralization in metamorphic terranes.

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