Orogenic gold deposits are generally thought to represent one perhaps protracted event. However, recent research on orogenic gold deposits increasingly offers evidence for some deposits forming through multiple and clearly discreet hydrothermal episodes. The giant Zaozigou orogenic Au-Sb deposit in the Triassic to Cretaceous West Qinling Orogen, central China, includes both steeply dipping and gently dipping orebodies. The two distinct mineralization styles provide a valuable setting for investigating a multiple mineralization model by integrating structural analysis within a robust geochronological framework. Through fieldwork and geochronology, we define a progression of major tectonic events in the area of the Zaozigou deposit. The deposit is hosted within a well-bedded sequence of Early Triassic metasedimentary rocks of the South Qinling Terrane. Pre-mineralization E-W shortening (D1) during subduction of the Mianlue oceanic slab include folding with resulting axial planes striking N-S, emplacement of Triassic ENE-striking and WNW-striking dacite dikes accompanied by Middle Triassic greenschist facies metamorphism. Late Triassic gold-stibnite quartz vein and disseminated mineralization formed along ENE-striking and steeply dipping D2 brittle to ductile sinistral faults. Their orientations suggest a link to the regional NNE-SSW maximum principal stress coinciding with transpression caused by the Late Triassic collision between the South China Block and South Qinling Terrane. Overprinting Early Cretaceous quartz-stibnite veins developed along gently dipping (20° to 40°) brittle D3 normal fault zones, which exhibit a NE-SW minimum principal stress. This younger deformation event is interpreted to be related to the Early Cretaceous tectonic transition from shortening to extension of the West Qinling Orogen. Therefore, the Zaozigou deposit reveals a model of multiple orogenic gold mineralizing events, with migration of hydrothermal fluids during discrete deformation episodes and the resulting formation of a single composite deposit formed along overprinting structures at separate times of orogenesis.

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