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Gold is either the only economically important metal or a major by-product in 11 well-characterized deposit types—paleoplacer, orogenic, porphyry, epithermal, Carlin, placer, reduced intrusion related, volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS), skarn, carbonate replacement, and iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG), arguably more than for those of any other metal; it also dominates a number of deposits of uncertain or unknown origin. Major gold concentrations formed worldwide from the Mesoarchean to the Pleistocene, from Earth’s surface to midcrustal paleodepths, alone or in association with silver, base metals, and/or uranium, and from hydrothermal fluids of predominantly metamorphic, magmatic, meteoric, seawater, or, uncommonly, basinal origins, as well as from mafic magma or ambient surface water. Most of the Neoproterozoic and Phanerozoic deposits unequivocally formed in accretionary orogens. As an introduction to this compilation of the world’s major gold deposits and provinces, this paper provides a thumbnail sketch of each gold deposit type, including geologic and economic characteristics and widely accepted genetic models, as well as briefly discusses aspects of their spatial and temporal associations and distributions.

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