Major types and time-space distribution of Mesozoic ore deposits in South China and their geodynamic settings

M. Jingwen, C. Yanbo, C. Maohong, Franco Pirajno

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    The ore deposits of the Mesozoic age in South China can be divided into three groups, each with different metal associations and spatial distributions and each related to major magmatic events. The first event occurred in the Late Triassic (230-210 Ma), the second in the Mid-Late Jurassic (170-150 Ma), and the third in the Early-Mid Cretaceous (120-80 Ma). The Late Triassic magmatic event and associated mineralization is characterized by peraluminous granite-related W-Sn-Nb-Ta mineral deposits. The Triassic ore deposits are considerably disturbed or overprinted by the later Jurassic and Cretaceous tectono-thermal episodes. The Mid-Late Jurassic magmatic and mineralization events consist of 170-160 Ma porphyry-skarn Cu and Pb-Zn-Ag vein deposits associated with I-type granites and 160-150 Ma metaluminous granite-related polymetallic W-Sn deposits. The Late Jurassic metaluminous granite-related W-Sn deposits occur in a NE-trending cluster in the interior of South China, such as in the Nanling area. In the Early-Mid Cretaceous, from about 120 to 80 Ma, but peaking at 100-90 Ma, subvolcanic-related Fe deposits developed and I-type calc-alkaline granitic intrusions formed porphyry Cu-Mo and porphyry-epithermal Cu-Au-Ag mineral systems, whereas S-type peraluminous and/or metaluminous granitic intrusions formed polymetallic Sn deposits. These Cretaceous mineral deposits cluster in distinct areas and are controlled by pull-apart basins along the South China continental margin. Based on mineral assemblage, age, and space-time distribution of these mineral systems, integrated with regional geological data and field observations, we suggest that the three magmatic-mineralization episodes are the result of distinct geodynamic regimes. The Triassic peraluminous granites and associated W-Sn-Nb-Ta mineralization formed during post-collisional processes involving the South China Block, the North China Craton, and the Indo-China Block, mostly along the Dabie-Sulu and Songma sutures. Jurassic events were initially related to the shallow oblique subduction of the Izanagi plate beneath the Eurasian continent at about 175 Ma, but I-type granitoids with porphyry Cu and vein-type Pb-Zn-Ag deposits only began to form as a result of the breakup of the subducted plate at 170-160 Ma, along the NNE-trending Qinzhou-Hangzhou belt (also referred to as Qin-Hang or Shi-Hang belt), which is the Neoproterozoic suture that amalgamates the Yangtze Craton and Cathaysia Block. A large subduction slab window is assumed to have formed in the Nanling and adjacent areas in the interior of South China, triggering the uprise of asthenospheric mantle into the upper crust and leading to the emplacement of metaluminous granitic magma and associated polymetallic W-Sn mineralization. A relatively tectonically quiet period followed between 150 and 135 Ma in South China. From 135 Ma onward, the angle of convergence of the Izanagi plate changed from oblique to parallel to the coastline, resulting in continental extensional tectonics and reactivation of regional-scale NE-trending faults, such as the Tan-Lu fault. This widespread extension also promoted the development of NE-trending pull-apart basins and metamorphic core complexes, accompanied by volcanism and the formation of epithermal Cu-Au deposits, granite-related polymetallic Sn-(W) deposits and hydrothermal U deposits between 120 and 80 Ma (with a peak activity at 100-90 Ma). © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-294
    JournalMineralium Deposita
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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