Abstract

The Jiaodong gold province, the largest gold producer in China, formed in a setting dominated by a 30-m.y. episode of Izanagi plate rollback and widespread extension, concomitant with late Mesozoic craton destruction. This study presents new high precision in situ sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) U-Th-Pb and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) U-Pb ages for hydrothermal monazite from the largest of the Jiaodong gold deposits, which were previously dated as indicating ore formation over a few tens of millions of years when applying sericite Ar-Ar, zircon U-Pb, and less robust analytical techniques. Our U-Pb dating on monazite from the Jiaojia and Linglong deposits in western Jiaodong yielded consistent ages at ca. 120 Ma. The new geochronologic results, coupled with recently reported in situ monazite dates from smaller deposits in western Jiaodong, reveal that the deposits that host most of the ≥4,000-t Au resource formed during a relatively brief period at ca. 120 Ma. In eastern Jiaodong, the much smaller resource may have formed about 5 m.y. later, recorded by 114.2 ± 1.5 Ma gold mineralization at the Rushan deposit. The postsubduction opening of a slab gap at ca. 120 Ma is the most likely cause of the extensive gold mineralization in Jiaodong. The gap induced a local and rapid devolatilization of the hydrated mantle wedge at submelt temperatures. The transient event included release of a major volume of gold-transporting aqueous-carbonic fluid that was stored in the wedge into major NNE-trending structures in the overlying lithosphere.

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