Abstract

Precise constraints on the source and evolution of ore-forming fluids of Carlin-type gold deposits in the Golden Triangle (south China) are of critical importance for a better understanding of the ore genesis and a refined genetic model for gold mineralization. However, constraints on the source of ore fluid components have long been a challenge due to the very fine grained nature of the ore and gangue minerals in the deposits. Here we present He, Ne, and Ar isotope data of fluid inclusion extracts from a variety of ore and gangue minerals (arsenian pyrite, realgar, quartz, calcite, and fluorite) representing the main and late ore stages of three well-characterized major gold deposits (Shuiyindong, Nibao, and Yata) to provide significant new insights into the source and evolution of ore-forming fluids of this important gold province. Measured He isotopes have R/RA ratios ranging from 0.01 to 0.4 that suggest a maximum of 5% mantle helium with an R/RA of 8. The Ne and Ar isotope compositions are broadly comparable to air-saturated water, with a few analyses indicating the presence of an external fluid containing nucleogenic 38Ar and radiogenic 40Ar. Plotted on the 20Ne/4He vs. helium R/RA and 3He/20Ne vs. 4He/20Ne diagrams, the results define two distinct arrays that emanate from a common sedimentary pore fluid or deeply sourced metamorphic fluid end-member containing crustal He. The main ore-stage fluids are interpreted as a mixture of magmatic fluid containing mantle He and sedimentary pore fluid or deeply sourced metamorphic fluid with predominantly crustal He, whereas the late ore-stage fluids are a mixture of sedimentary pore fluid or deeply sourced metamorphic fluid bearing crustal He and shallow meteoric groundwater containing atmospheric He. Results presented here, when combined with independent evidence, support a magmatic origin for the ore-forming fluids. The ascending magmatic fluid mixed with sedimentary pore fluid or deeply sourced metamorphic fluid in the ore stage and subsequently mixed with the meteoric groundwater in the late ore stage, eventually producing the Carlin-type gold deposits in the Golden Triangle.

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