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2005 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc.

Economic Geology 100th Anniversary Volume


pp. 10971136

Metallogenic Provinces in an Evolving Geodynamic Framework


ROBERT KERRICH,
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, 114 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5E2

RICHARD J. GOLDFARB,
U.S. Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 964, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0046, and
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, 2200 Colorado A ve., Campus Box 399, Boulder, Colorado 80309
AND JEREMY

P. R ICHARDS

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E3

Abstract
Thermal decay of Earth resulted in decreased mantle-plume intensity and temperature and consequently a
gradual reduction of abundant komatiitic basalt ocean plateaus at ~2.6 Ga. In the Neoarchean, ocean crust was
~11 km thick at spreading centers, and abundant bimodal arc basalt-dacite magmatic edifices were constructed
at convergent margins. Neoarchean greenstone belt orogenesis stemmed from multiple terrane accretion in
Cordilleran-style external orogens with multiple sutures, where oceanic plateaus captured arcs by jamming
subduction zones, and plateau crust melted to generate high thorium tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite suites.
Archean cratons have a distinctive ~250- to 350-km-thick continental lithospheric mantle keel with buoyant refractory properties, resulting from coupling of the buoyant residue of deep plume melting to imbricated
plateau-arc crust. In contrast, Proterozoic and younger continental lithospheric mantle is <150 km thick,
denser, and less refractory and therefore easily reworked in younger orogens. The supercontinent cycle has operated since ~2.8 Ga: Kenorland assembled at ~2.7 Ga, Columbia ~1.8 Ga, Rodinia ~1 Ga, and Pangea ~0.3
Ga. Dispersal may have been triggered by superplumes.
Komatiite-hosted Ni deposits are related to plumes, where sulfide saturation resulted from crustal contamination. Base metal-rich volcanic rock-associated massive sulfide (VMS) deposits accumulated on thinned, fractured lithosphere within extensional oceanic suprasubduction environments, or back arcs, which were intruded
by anomalously hot subvolcanic sills; hence, their abundance in the Superior province of Canada (thick continental lithosphere), contrasting with few in the Y ilgarn craton of Australia (thick lithosphere). Orogenic gold
deposits formed in sutures between accreted terranes associated with assembly of Kenorland. Diamonds were
created by reaction of carbonate-rich asthenospheric liquids with continental lithospheric mantle at >240-km
depth, mostly pre-2.7 Ga. They were entrained in kimberlitic to lamproitic melts related to superplume events
at 480, 280, and ~100 Ma. Preservation of resulting mineral provinces stems from their location on stable
Archean continental lithospheric mantle.
Decreased plume activity after 2.6 Ga caused sea level to fall, leading to the first extensive passive-margin
sequences, including deposition of phosphorites, iron formations, and hydrocarbons, during dispersal of
Kenorland from 2.4 to 2.2 Ga. Deposits of Cr -Ni-Cu-PGE were generated where plumes impinged on failed
rifts at the transition from thick Archean to thinner Proterozoic continental lithospheric mantle, e.g., the Great
Dyke, Zimbabwe, and later at Norilsk, Russia. Paleoproterozoic orogenic belts, for example, the Trans-Hudson
orogen in North America and the Barramundi orogen in Australia, welded together the new continent of Columbia. Foreland basins associated with these orogens, containing reductants (graphitic schists) in the basement, led to the formation of unconformity U deposits, with multiple stages of mineralization generated from
diagenetic brines for as much as 600 m.y. after sedimentation. Plume dispersal of Columbia at 1.6 to 1.4 Ga led
to SEDEX Pb-Zn deposits in intracontinental rifts of North America and Australia, extensive belts of Rapakivi
A-type granites on all continents, with associated Sn veins, and Fe oxide-Cu-Au-REE deposits. All were controlled by rifts at the transition from thick to thin continental lithospheric mantle. Plume impingement on Rodinia at ~1 Ga formed extensive belts of anorogenic anorthosites and Rapakivi granites in Laurentia and
Baltica, the former hosting Fe-Ti-V deposits. Sedimentary rock-hosted Cu deposits formed in intracontinental
basins from plume dispersal of Rodinia at ~800 Ma.
Iron formations and mantle plumes have common time series: Algoman type occur from 3.8 Ga to 40 Ma,
granular iron formations precipitated on the passive margins of Kenorland at ~2.4 Ga, Superior -type formed
on the passive margins of Laurentia, and Rapitan iron formations were created in rifts during latter stages of
dispersal of Rodinia at ~700 Ma. Accordingly, such deposits are not proxies for the activity of atmospheric O 2.
Rich Tertiary placer deposits of Ti-Zr-Hf, located on the passive margins of Australia and Southern Africa, reflect multiple cannibalistic cycles from orogens that welded Rodinia and Pangea.
Orogenic Au deposits formed during Cordilleran-type orogens characterized by clockwise pressure-temperature-time paths from ~2.7 Ga to the Tertiary; Au-As-W and Hg-Sb deposits reflect the same ore fluids at progressively shallower levels of terrane sutures. The MVT -type Pb-Zn deposits formed in foreland basins, with
Corresponding

author: e-mail, Robert.kerrich@usask.ca

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KERRICH ET AL.

Phanerozoic Pb-Zn SEDEX ores localized in rifted passive continental margins containing evaporites at low
latitudes. Porphyry Cu and epithermal Au-Ag deposits occur in both intraoceanic and continental margin arcs;
ore fluids were related to slab dehydration, peridotite fusion, and hybridization with upper -plate crust. Deposits exposed today are largely <200 m.y .-old, given their low preservation potential in topographically elevated ranges.

Historical Perspective and Scope

for; and (4) extrapolation to the Precambrian met with uncertainties as to tectonic processes during that era. W
indley
Lindgren (1933) pioneered the concepts of both metallo(1995) compiled a concise list of metallic and nonmetallic regenic provinces and epochs. In the Economic Geology Fifti- sources for each era, documenting their geodynamic and geeth Anniversary Volume, Turneaure (1955) synthesized global ologic settings.
metallogenic provinces. He emphasized different classes of
It is now generally accepted that plate tectonics operated
ore deposits, stable versus orogenic settings, lithologic or
from ~3.4 Ga, albeit in some early form that likely differs
magmatic associations of specific metal groupings, and the
from today, with intermittently more intense plume activity to
role of young mountain belts in preservation potential. Met1.9 Ga (Fyfe, 1978; Isley and Abbott, 1999). Archean cratonallogenic provinces of different ages were recognized, albeit
scale faults are commensurate with lithospheric plate interacwith large age uncertainties. Primary depositional setting ver- tions (Sleep, 1992). In addition, Cenozoic-type convergent
sus replacement was, and remains, an issue. Independently , margin arc associations, including the presence of boninites,
Bilibin (1968) and Smirnov (1976) documented specific litho- Mg andesites, and adakites, in Precambrian supracrustal tertectonic and age associations for various classes of metallic
ranes require that arc-trench migration occurred (Polat et al.,
deposits in the former Soviet Union. Other comparative stud- 2003). An alternative precept of Archean geodynamics is
ies of major ore provinces recognized the evolving crust-man- given by Hamilton (1998).
tle system as a control on lithological associations, magmatic
Advances in geochronology have resolved many of the unstyle, and types of ore deposits (Pereira and Dixon, 1965;
certainties in the timing of both metal deposits and metalloStanton, 1972; Hutchinson, 1981). Atlases of the distribution genic provinces. This constraint permits evaluation of funcof metallic deposits by geologic terrane and age were comtional relationships between lithotectonic associations,
piled by Dixon (1979) and Derry (1980).
magmatism, pressure-temperature-time (P-T -t) conditions
Meyer (1981) generated a global database of representative and fluid compositions, and geodynamic setting, concurrently
or type metallic mineral deposits, and their age-lithotectonic
resolving the syngenetic issue (e.g., Kerrich and Cassidy
,
association, in the Economic Geology Seventy-Fifth Anniver- 1994). Based on Meyer s (1981, 1988) compilations of the
sary Volume. He formulated the space-time distribution of
space-time distribution of metallogenic provinces, Barley and
metallogenic provinces in terms of two parameters: intervals
Groves (1992) provided insights into the episodic developof geologic history during which specific classes of metallic
ment of distinct classes of metallic deposits as a function of the
deposits formed, and changes of characteristics within a given supercontinent cycle. Geologic processes are intrinsically stoclass over the interval when that class formed. Meyer obchastic, so there is progressive uncertainty in reconstructing
served that trends of crustal evolution were not contempora- the supercontinent cycle back through the Precambrian. Y et,
neous globally but did not cast his reviews in a plate tectonic
this framework confers an elegant account for metallogenic
context (Meyer, 1981, 1988).
provinces and their episodicity from 2.7 Ga to the present.
The theory of plate tectonics was established in the 1970s,
During the last 25 years there have been profound gains in
supplanting the geosynclinal concept of lithotectonic associa- knowledge as to how plate tectonics operates through time,
tions (Kay, 1951; see Sengor, 1990, for a review). Elements of stemming from the heuristic approach of geology as a field and
the theory included: recognition of ocean-floor spreading
analytical science. In addition to development of the concept of
from ages of volcanic islands and transform faults (W ilson, the supercontinent cycle, knowledge has advanced on many
1965; Hess, 1968) and magnetic domains (V
ine and
fronts relevant to metal deposits, including: (1) how evolution
Matthews, 1963), relative to mid-ocean ridges; exponential
of lithospheric mantle controls crustal evolution (Jordan, 1988);
decrease of heat flow orthogonal to spreading centers (Sclater (2) recognition of superfamilies of orogenic belts (Sengor and
and Francheteau, 1970); and earthquake distribution at conNatalin, 1996); (3) the role of mantle plumes and their intervergent margins (Benioff, 1964). Historical accounts of the
action with lithospheric plates (Condie, 2001; Wyman and Kerevolution from a static to dynamic worldview are given by
rich, 2002); (4) transitions in both plume and convergent marUyeda (1978) and Allegr (1988).
gin magmatism near the Archean-Proterozoic transition
Initial hypotheses of the relationship between different
(Taylor and McLennan, 1995; Isley and Abbott, 1999); (5) declasses of ore deposits and their plate tectonic settings were
velopment of, and processes in, convergent margins (see reset out by Rona (1980), Mitchell and Garson (1981), and
view by Richards, 2003); (6) characterization of geothermal sysSawkins (1984). These accounted for the distribution of some tems on land (Elder, 1981) and submarine counterparts, some
ore deposit types in the Phanerozoic. However , there were of which are actively depositing sulfide minerals, such as in the
limitations: (1) at the time, genetic hypotheses for many types Lau back-arc basin (Ishibashi and Urabe, 1995; Mills and Elof ore deposit were predicated on syngenesis; (2) where con- derfield, 1995); (7) quantification of global geochemical cycles
sensus existed on a syngenetic versus epigenetic origin, the
(Jacobson et al., 2000); (8) seismic tomography (van der Hilst
age of mineralization was not well constrained; (3) epochs, or et al., 1998); (9) precise geochronology (Dalrymple, 1991); and
secular cycles, of metallogenic provinces were not accounted (10) the fractal, or scale-invariant, nature of many geologic
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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

processes, including of metallogenic provinces (Turcotte, 1992;


Weinberg et al., 2004).
Accordingly, in this overview , we reframe the space-time
distribution of ore deposits in terms of four interrelated
processes: (1) lithotectonic associations that develop in a
given geodynamic setting, (2) classes of metallogenic
provinces that develop in those associations, (3) secular variations of geodynamic environments in the supercontinentcycle framework, and (4) secular change of continental lithospheric mantle that influences all of the above.
Evolution of near-surface conditions has also been viewed
as a control on the distribution of some ore deposits through
time, specifically those having elements with redox-sensitive
solubility, such as Fe and U. Two polarized schools of thought
emerged and have persisted. Cloud (1972) proposed a low
pO2 in the Archean, with a transition to oxygenation of Earths
atmosphere-hydrosphere in the Proterozoic, whereas Dimroth and Kimberly (1976) advocated Archean atmospheric
pO2 close to the present atmospheric level (P AL). More recently, some workers have promoted the early low pO2 model
based on mass-independent S isotope fractionation of atmospheric S gases, and a rise of atmospheric oxygen at 2.4 to 2.2
Ga as the redox state of volcanic gases shifted (Farquar et al.,
2000; Holland, 2002). In contrast, Ohmoto maintained that
pO2 was within 50 percent of present atmospheric level by 4
Ga, based on Fe mobility in Archean paleosols and on depositional mechanisms for iron formation that are akin to those
presently occurring in the Red and Black Seas (Ohmoto,
1997, 2004a,b). Resolution of this issue is not readily
tractable, as many lines of evidence may reflect local conditions, and it is difficult to demonstrate preservation of primary signatures (e.g., Clout and Simonson, 2005). It is clear
from molecular microfossils that the earliest photosynthesis
in the Paleoarchean was anoxygenic, using bacteriochlorophyls, whereas oxygenic photosynthesis by photosystem II, involving cyanobacteria, was established by the Mesoarchean
(N isbitt, 2002). This review does not further consider the
issue.
No modern text on ore deposits addresses recent advances
in geodynamics. Accordingly, we present a brief synthesis of
geodynamic concepts as a framework for discussing mineral
deposits. The divisions between geodynamic settings used
here reflect the preference of the authors. For example, we
explicitly recognize that there is a continuum between dominant plume-lithosphere interaction, where magmatic Ni-CuPGE deposits form; through belts of anorogenic magmatism
that host Fe-T i-V deposits, in which plume magmas do not
advect to shallow crustal levels; and to continental rifting with
subdued plume activity, which is the setting for Fe oxide-CuAu-REE and sediment-hosted Cu-Co deposits. For each
main geodynamic setting, we have selected the best characterized metallogenic provinces for discussion of the role of
geodynamics in the formation of a class, or classes, of mineral
deposit, without necessarily including all deposit subtypes.
Geodynamics
Introduction
Plate tectonics is a kinematic theory according to which the
lithosphere, the upper layer of the Earth including crust and
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lithospheric mantle, is divided into a finite number of plates.


The plates are torsionally , but not flexurally , rigid. Plates interact at divergent, convergent, and transform-fault boundaries (Fig. 1A), as they migrate across the surface of the Earth
(Isacks et al., 1968; Cox and Hart, 1986; Sengor , 1990). Plate
motions are the surface reflection of the fundamental process
by which heat is removed from the interior of the Earth.
The oceanic and continental lithospheric plates, also
termed the mechanical boundary layer (Fig. 2A,B), constitute
the translationally mobile upper boundary layer of the threedimensional convection cells in the asthenospheric mantle.
The core-mantle boundary (referred to as D", 2,900 km deep)
is the lower boundary layer of the mantle convection cells.
The boundary between upper and lower mantle (D', 670 km)
is defined seismologically and reflects a mineralogical phase
transition. The upper and lower mantle probably convects independently, albeit with episodic overturn, based on geochemical, heat flow , and seismic evidence (Stein and Hofmann, 1994; van der Hilst et al., 1998; Butler and Peltier
,
2002). Heat is removed from the core and mantle to the surface by this convection and by plumes that rise from the coremantle boundary , advecting through the convecting lower
and upper mantle to the surface (Davies, 1999). Heat passes
from the convecting asthenospheric mantle through the torsionally rigid lithospheric plates either by conduction or by
advection of magmas. Thermal boundary layers form at the
transition from convecting to convecting or convecting to
conducting domains; they are present at the D" core-mantle
boundary, at the D' upper -lower mantle transition, and between the base of the lithosphere and top of the convecting
upper mantle, which is also the low-velocity zone (Fig. 2).
Subducting oceanic lithospheric plates penetrate the D'
upper-lower mantle boundary at 670 km, as imaged by seismic tomography , and probably are stored in lithospheric
graveyards at the core-mantle boundary (D"), where they are
sporadically reactivated as mantle plumes. Similarly
, an
anomalously hot mantle plume, extending into the lower
mantle, has been imaged beneath the Iceland ocean plateau
(Bijward and Spakman, 1999; Krason and van der Hilst,
2000). Accordingly, there is mass as well as heat exchange between the upper and lower mantles.
Oceanic and continental lithosphere
Schematic diagrams depicting the tectonic setting of ore
deposits generally stop at the base of the deposit or the crust,
the petrological seismic Mohorovic discontinuity (Moho).
However, the larger context in which mineral concentrations,
i.e., deposits, form should more comprehensively be considered in a lithosphere-asthenosphere framework that reflects
geodynamic settings. These in turn control the conjunction of
structures, magma reservoirs, fluid reservoirs, basins, and
their interactions (Fig. 2).
Modern oceanic lithosphere has a ~6-km-thick basaltic
crust and ~30- to 50-km-thick lherzolitic mantle lithosphere
near ridges. The mantle lithosphere thickens to a maximum
of ~70 to 100 km as it progressively cools with increasing distance from the oceanic spreading axis, by accretion of underlying asthenosphere (Fig. 2A; Keary and V ine, 1996). Compared to the underlying asthenosphere, oceanic lithosphere
away from ridges is relatively cool, mechanically rigid, and

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KERRICH ET AL.

FIG. 1. A. Map of continental and oceanic lithospheric plates. Triangles signify polarity of subduction, trenches migrate
in the opposite direction as slabs sink approximately vertically. Length of arrows proportional to plate velocity. Red symbols
= Cordilleran superfamily of orogenic belts; green symbols = continent-continent superfamily of orogenic belts. Modified
from Condie (1997). B. Distribution of Archean cratons and Proterozoic and Phanerozoic terranes. After Kusky and Polat
(1999). C. Thickness of continental lithospheric mantle from Artemieva and Mooney (2001).
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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

FIG. 2. A. Cross section through oceanic lithosphere, modified from Keary and Vine (1996). B. Cross section through continental lithosphere, illustrating the thick, refractory irregular base or keel of the continental lithospheric mantle, distinc tive
of Archean cratons. This mantle includes subcreted plateau lithosphere metasomatized by subduction at shallower levels, the
source of Neoarchean and Proterozoic cratonic norites. Deeper levels are the residue of plume melting, buoyantly coupled
to overlying continental lithospheric mantle and crust. Such Archean mantle is refractory and thus is responsible for the high
preservation potential of Archean mineral deposits; this level includes the diamond facies. T ranslithospheric structures are
focused at the transition to thinner Proterozoic and younger continental lithospheric mantle, controlling the location of
plume-related N i-Cu-PGE and Fe oxide-Cu-Au-REE deposits. Modified from N ixon and Davies (1987), Artemieva and
Mooney (2001), and Wyman and Kerrich (2002). C. Cross section through oceanic crust, illustrating the location of VMS deposits that form in back arcs and podiform Cr deposits generated at intraoceanic suprasubduction zones. Modified from
Keary and V ine (1996). D. Age-thickness relationship of continental lithospheric mantle from velocity structure (after
Artemieva and Mooney , 2001). E. Depth-differential strength relationships of oceanic and continental lithosphere; for
oceanic lithosphere this relationship controls the thickness of obducted ophiolites; for continental lithosphere the minimum
at ~35 km controls the thickness of accreted terranes. F . Depth-shear wave velocity relationships of different geodynamic
settings. (E) and (F) modified from Keary and V ine (1996).
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negatively buoyant (Fig. 2A). For a hotter Archean upper


mantle, greater degrees of melting occurred at spreading centers (Bickle, 1986). According to calculations of Abbott et al.
(1994a), Neoarchean basaltic oceanic crust was ~11 km thick,
with a commensurately thicker mantle lithosphere residue
depleted in incompatible elements from basalt extraction.
Consequently, Archean ocean lithosphere would have subducted at shallower angles from thermal and buoyancy considerations. There has been a secular decrease in the temperature of mantle plumes; accordingly , ocean plateau crust has
also become thinner through time (Fig. 3).
The continental lithosphere has a 30- to 80-km-thick crustal
sector in Archean and younger eons. Continental lithospheric
mantle is 250 to 350 km thick under Archean continental
crust but ~150 km thick for Proterozoic and ~100 km for

FIG. 3. A. Plume intensity through time, simplified from Abbott et al.


(1994a). Ocean crust production, dashed line. B. Sea level change through
time; the first extensive exposure of continents above sea level occurred after
the 2.8 to 2.6 Ga plume maxima, followed by development of extensive passive margin sequences at ~2.4 to 2.2 Ga as the supercontinent Kenorland dispersed. C. Decrease of potential shallow mantle temperature. D. Decrease
in thickness of ocean crust in response to secular change of shallow mantle
temperature (Abbott et al., 1994) and of plateau crust in response to changing plume temperature.
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younger terranes. The existence of Archean continental


lithospheric mantle defines cratons (Figs. 1B,C, 2 B, D, F;
Artemieva and Mooney, 2001; Plomerova et al., 2002), and it
is more buoyant and refractory than mantle lithosphere beneath younger continental regions; its thickness and thermal
structure lead to the preservation of diamonds (Fig. 2B,C).
Archean continental lithospheric mantle is the residue of
deep melting in hot plumes coupled to crust. There is a bimodal depth distribution to such mantle at 350 to 300 km and
at 220 to 200 km, with the former characterizing blocks >6 to
8 106 km2 in area (Artemieva and Mooney, 2001), and with
implications for diamond potential. Younger plumes were less
frequent and cooler , so they did not generate refractory
residues (Fig. 2; White, 1988; Jordan, 1988; Pollack, 1997;
Herzberg, 1999; Artemieva and Mooney, 2001). For example,
the continental lithospheric mantle is 190 to 240 km thick in
the diamondiferous Magan and Anabar cratons but thins to
150 to 180 km for the Proterozoic Olenek province (Griffin et
al., 1999). From studies of xenolith suites, there is a secular
trend from highly depleted harzburgites in Archean continental lithospheric mantle, through intermediate depletion in
the Proterozoic, to mildly depleted lherzolites in the Phanerzoic. Archean continental lithospheric mantle has a density of
3.36 g/cm 3, whereas Proterozoic continental lithospheric
mantle is 3.38 g/cm 3, marginally less dense than ambient asthenosphere (Griffin et al., 2003).
Archean supracrustal terranes are dominated by bimodal
volcanic arc sequences and postvolcanic tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite batholiths, whereas Archean continental
lithospheric mantle is refractory harzburgite, with the composition of the residue of plume melting. This apparent paradox may be resolved if migrating arcs captured ocean plateaus
erupted from mantle plumes. Buoyant plateaus jam subduction zones, generating composite arc-plume crust, and the
buoyant residue of plume melting couples to the base of the
crust (Wyman and Kerrich, 2002). Prior to capture and coupling of plume residue, subduction caused metasomatism of
peridotitic subarc lithosphere. During subsequent extensional events, and/or plume impingement, metasomatized domains melted to generate the voluminous noritic magmas
characteristic of N eoarchean to Proterozoic layered igneous
complexes in or near Archean cratons (Fig. 2B; Hall and
Hughes, 1980). Those magmas are integral to formation of
N i-Cu-PGE and Fe-T i-V deposits. Proterozoic and younger
plumes were not hot enough to generate refractory residue;
consequently, Proterozoic and younger continental lithospheric mantle is thinner, denser, and less refractory, such that
crustal terranes are more readily reworked during subsequent
orogenies (Figs. 1, 2).
During collisional orogens in the Proterozoic and Phanerozoic, both crust and continental lithospheric mantle thicken,
and part of the latter may delaminate; hot asthenosphere then
flows under thinned lithosphere, creating elevated orogens,
as in the T ibetan plateau (Houseman and Molnar , 1997).
During lithosphere thickening under compression, radioactive heat weakens the crust, and decoupling of lower crust
and continental lithospheric mantle may occur at the base of
the upper felsic crust (Meissner and Mooney , 1998). Hightemperaturelow-pressure metamorphism and extensional
collapse with escape tectonics ensue, in conjunction with

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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

asthenospheric and crustal magmatism. Delaminated continental lithospheric mantle has been imaged by teleseismic tomography beneath the Alpine-Himalayan orogen (Schott and
Schmeling, 1998). Delamination is in progress beneath the
Basin and Range province and Tibetan plateau, is interpreted
to have occurred beneath the Puna plateau of northwestern
Argentina (Kay and Kay , 1993), and characterized the late
stages in the development of the V ariscan and Grenvillian
continent-continent orogens (Windley, 1995).
The low-velocity zone is the thermal boundary layer between torsionally rigid lithospheric plates and the convecting
asthenosphere; low S wave velocities result from domains of
partially melted lherzolite, conferring low strength. This zone
is 100 to 200 km thick below ridges where thermal gradients
are high, thinner below normal continental lithosphere, and is
thin to absent beneath Archean continental lithospheric mantle where thermal gradients are low (Fig. 2 A, B; Keary and
Vine, 1996).
Characteristics of plate boundaries
Divergent plate boundaries: As oceanic plates separate at
ridges due to far-field extensional forces, decompressional melting of asthenospheric mantle generates mafic magmas that accrete to the edges of plates to form new crust (Keary and V ine,
1996). Upwelling of asthenospheric upper mantle beneath
ridges is passive, in response to plate separation. In a simplified
cross section, the oceanic lithosphere is composed of lower ultramafic mantle (mantle tectonites, dunites, lherzolites, and
harzburgites) at the base, and mafic crustal rocks (gabbros,
sheeted dike complex, and basalts) at the top, bounded by the
oceanic Moho. The thickness of the lithosphere increases from
zero at ridges to 70 to 100 km at an age of ~70 m.y., then maintains approximately uniform thickness, as plates move away
from spreading centers. Commensurately , the depth of the
ocean floor increases with the age of oceanic lithosphere, due to
thermal cooling of the lithosphere associated with thickening
and subsidence (Fig. 2A; Parsons and Sclater, 1977).
Convergent plate boundaries: At convergent margins, the
plate with higher density sinks beneath the lighter plate,
forming a subduction zone, and the leading edge of the overriding plate becomes a paired fore arc and magmatic arc.
Where two oceanic plates converge, the older and denser
oceanic plate generally sinks beneath the younger and lighter
one, generating oceanic island arcs, such as the Marianas and
the south Sandwich arcs. Given its higher density , oceanic
lithosphere subducts underneath continental lithosphere to
form a continental magmatic arc, such as the Andean, Sumatran, and Japanese arcs.
Convergent margins generally feature the following tectonic elements: (1) a deep marine trench seaward of the fore
arc; (2) a subduction-accretion complex located between the
underriding plate and the fore-arc basin; (3) a fore-arc basin
between the arc axis and the subduction-accretion complex;
(4) a magmatic arc; and (5) an inboard foreland basin-thrust
belt, which undergoes subsidence and sedimentation due to
tectonic loading, tectonic imbrication, and later compressiondriven uplift (Fig. 4). Porphyry Cu deposits form in oceanic
and continental arcs, and most preserved volcanic rock-associated massive sulfide deposits form in oceanic arcs or
oceanic or continental back arcs.
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1103

Based on relative plate motions, magmatic arcs are divided


into extensional, neutral, and compressional (Dewey , 1980;
Sengor, 1990). Extensional arcs, such as the Marianas, are
characterized by dominantly mafic volcanism, back-arc basin
opening, an ophiolitic fore-arc basement, deep trenches, and
steeply dipping W adati-Benioff zones. Given its thermally
weak nature, arc lithosphere generally undergoes extension to
form an intra-arc basin or an intra-arc spreading center; the
Lesser Antilles and Taupo arcs are examples of initial stages,
whereas the Lau basin has evolved into a back arc.
Compressional arcs, such as the Central Andes, lie on continental lithosphere, and are characterized by mainly intermediate to felsic magmatism, back-arc thrusting, continental
fore-arc basement, shallow trenches, and shallow Benioff
zones. Neutral arcs such as the Central American, Sumatran,
and Alaska Range-Aleutian arcs have characteristics intermediate between extensional and compressional arcs and usually
have large subduction-accretion complexes and orogen-parallel strike-slip faults (Windley, 1995).
Arc magmatism varies along and across strike. All arc magmas are characterized by variably light rare earth element
(REE) and lithophile element (Cs, Rb, Ba, K, and Pb) earth
element enriched patterns and depletions in Nb, Ta, P, and Ti
(Pearce, 1982; Saunders et al., 1991; Keleman et al., 2004).
Tholeiitic magmatism is dominant between the fore-arc basin
and arc axis; calc-alkaline magmatism occurs mainly in the
central region of the arc, whereas late alkaline igneous rocks
tend to occur between the arc axis and back-arc region (the
K-h relationship; see W ilson, 1989, for a review). The composition of continental crust requires that mafic cumulates
founder under arc crust (Rudnick and Gao, 2004), with space
conservation accommodated by inflowing asthenosphere. Regional metamorphism varies from subgreenschist to eclogite
facies (Fyfe et al., 1978), and the occurrence of adjacent hightemperature and/or low-pressure (greenschist) and highpressure and/or low-temperature (blueschist) metamorphic
belts is unique to convergent plate boundaries (Ernst, 1975).
The uppermost section of subducting oceanic lithosphere is
prevalently marine turbidites but may include pelagic sediments, oceanic islands, seamounts, and carbonate platforms.
These are commonly scraped off, deformed, metamorphosed,
and accreted to the base of the overriding plate to form a subduction-accretion complex. Complex interaction between
overriding and subducting plates results in thrusting, folding,
and mlange formation within the subduction-accretion complex, with late transpression and associated strike-slip faulting. In arcs characterized by strong coupling between the
overriding and subducting plates, attrition of the fore arc occurs by subduction-erosion (von Huene et al., 2004). T rench
turbidites have a catchment in the upper levels of subductionaccretion complexes. Plate movement is driven by the negative buoyancy of subducting slabs, not by mantle convection
(Conrad and Lithgow-Bertelloni, 2002). Stern (2002) has recently reviewed processes in subduction zones.
Transform plate boundaries: Transform, or conservative,
boundaries accommodate the motion from divergent- to convergent-plate boundaries and accommodate translation between ridge sectors spreading at different rates, as required
by plate motion on a spherical surface (W ilson, 1965). Transform-plate boundaries separating continental lithospheric

1103

1104

KERRICH ET AL.

FIG. 4. A. Life span-geodynamic relationships of sedimentary basins. Modified from Woodcock (2004). Abbreviations: BA
= back arc, FA = fore arc, FL = foreland, IA = intra-arc, O = oceanic, PM = passive margin, R = continental margin rift, RA
= retro-arc, SS = strike slip, T = trench, TS = trench slope. (A) after Kyser et al. (2000), (B), (C), and (D) modified from Ross
(2000), (E) a composite from miscellaneous sources and R. Kerrich.
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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

blocks are termed transcurrent or continental strike-slip


faults. Examples are the San Andreas fault zone of California,
the North Anatolian strike-slip fault zone in T urkey, and the
Tintina and Denali fault zones of western Canada and Alaska.
Transtensional regions are characterized by normal faulting,
pull-apart basins, and dominantly basaltic volcanism, whereas
transpressional regions feature thrusting, folding, and uplift,
in addition to strike-slip faulting in both cases (Christie-Blick
and Biddle, 1985; Sylvester, 1988).

1105

transtensional to transpressional zones late during orogenesis,


Cordilleran orogens generally undergo significant oroclinal
bending (e.g., Alaska and the Altaids; Yakubchuk et al., 2002,
2005). These strike-slip regimes also cause the highly dismembered nature of ophiolite sequences within most orogens and thus a discontinuous distribution to many preaccretionary VMS and chromite ores.
Cordilleran-style orogens may show a similarly wide
(>1,000 km) pattern of subduction-related magmatism, as in
the Altaids and mainland Alaska. By contrast, continent-conSuperfamilies of orogens
tinent orogens feature narrow magmatic arcs. In Cordillean
Cordilleran orogens: Sengor and Natalin (1996a) classified orogens, the ages of the igneous rocks young toward the
orogenic belts into two superfamilies, Cordilleran and contiocean, as arc magmatism migrates episodically in that direcnent-continent. This insight has profound implications for
tion as the continental margin is built outward (Sengor and
metallogeny. Cordilleran-type orogens, also referred to as
Natalin, 1996a). Ages of orogenic gold deposits tend to follow
Turkic or transpressional (Sengor and Natalin, 1996a), exter- the same approximate spatial and/or temporal pattern (Goldnal (Murphy and N ance, 1992), or accretionary (W
indley, farb et al., 1997). Most igneous rocks are juvenile in the oro1995), represent continental growth via the process of terrane gens; there are limited examples of remelted crust seaward of
accretion. These sutured tectonostratigraphic terranes are
the craton edges (Windley, 1995).
fragments of juvenile arcs and ocean plateaus, plus marine
Lithological units in Phanerozoic orogens are dominated by
sedimentary rocks, tectonically assembled in accretionary
deep marine turbidite sequences and lesser basalts and
prisms; there is typically little addition or reworking of older
cherts, as these are the dominant rocks being accreted off the
continental crust (Ben-Avraham et al., 1981). Collision of ter- top of subducting oceanic slabs and comprising the growing
ranes occurs dominantly in an oblique manner , with the par- prism defining the arc-trench gap (Fig. 4E). Addition of new
titioned compressional component responsible for much of
crust to a craton margin is also common in a spreading backthe orogeny. Cordilleran-type orogens are characterized by
arc regime, where foreland or retroarc basins may evolve in a
both extensive lateral and vertical accretion above a subduct- region of extension between the continental arc and craton
ing slab. Where subduction-erosion hinders terrane collision
edge. These units may have a higher volume of fine-grained
and thus lateral accretion, Andean-type orogens dominate.
terrigenous and biogenic material than units in the fore arc,
These possess the arc-related porphyry and epithermal dewhich are more likely dominated by the clastic products of
posits that also characterize Cordilleran-type orogens but lack deep-sea turbiditic currents. Importantly , the pelitic sedimost other, more deeply formed deposit types that are commentary rocks and related mafic volcanic and volcaniclastic
mon throughout the blocks of allochthonous juvenile crust
sequences commonly contain volatile-rich mineral phases
within such orogens, as described below.
such as phengite, biotite, lawsonite, chlorite, dolomite, magMultiple sutures at terrane boundaries are inherent to
nesite, and pyrite, all potential contributors of H2O, CO2, and
S to fluid phases produced during later thermal and delong-lived terrane collison. Sutures commonly serve as sites
for ensuing economic mineralization. Seaward growth of con- volatilization events (e.g., Fyfe et al., 1978). Furthermore,
marine pyrite may contain trace amounts of gold that can also
tinental margins, with such sutures defining progressive terbe mobilized during subsequent heating of the marine rocks.
rane accretion, tends to be a long-lived process of perhaps
During the last decade, Cordilleran-style orogens, as prod~300 to 400 m.y .; examples include the Cordilleran orogen,
ucts of a present-day style of plate tectonics, have become
370 Ma to present; Altaid orogen, 610 to 250 Ma; and PanAfrican orogen, 900 to 630 Ma (Burchfiel et al., 1992; Sengor widely accepted as having developed far back into the Preand Natalin, 1996a). Depending on the degree of obliquity to cambrian (Sengor and Natalin, 1996a; deWit, 1998). Archean
and Paleoproterozoic terranes are dominated by greenstones
each terrane collision, these sutures behave as thrust and/or
and tonalites, with minor turbidites; these linear belts also
strike-slip faults. In many cases, lateral displacement of terranes becomes relatively more common late during orogene- likely formed via processes of accretion at convergent plate
boundaries (Kusky and Kidd, 1992; Kusky and Polat, 1999;
sis or even subsequent to all collision. Such transform contiFoley et al., 2002). Structural style and metamorphic regimes
nental margins concentrate juvenile crust, and likely
associated mineral deposits, in restricted regions of an evolv- in many Precambrian greenstone belts, or composite
tectonostratigraphic terranes, resemble those in Phanerozoic
ing orogen (Patchett and Chase, 2002). The terranes of the
Cordilleran-style orogens. For example, accretionary assemAltaid orogen underwent thousands of kilometers of left latilgarn cratons
eral and right lateral movements during the final stages of Pa- bly of the ~2.7 Ga Superior province and Y
(Sengor and Natalin, 2004), including the involvement of sigleozoic tectonism in central Asia (Sengor and N atalin,
1996a). Major shifts from compressional to more translational nificant volumes of plume-derived oceanic plateau crust
(Stein and Hofmann, 1994; Polat et al., 1999), was characterregional stress regimes appear conducive to seismic events
and extensive episodes of fluid flow (Sibson et al., 1988; Ker- ized by terrane accretion and batholith emplacement that mirich and Wyman, 1990) and may be important controls on the grated in a seaward direction (Kerrich et al., 2000).
Ophiolites, long appreciated as footprints of Cordillerandevelopment of large orogenic gold provinces in Cordilleran
orogenic belts (e.g., Goldfarb et al., 1991, 2005). Given far - style tectonics, are now widely recognized in Precambrian enfield compressional regimes superimposed on more localized vironments, with a particularly high abundance of tholeiitic
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KERRICH ET AL.

pillow basalts in many cratons (de W it, 2004). Higher geotherms in the Archean are reflected by the widespread highgrade gneissic basement rocks, which, with refractory continental lithospheric mantle, have preserved the mid-crustal
Cordilleran-like greenstone belts for billions of years. Similarity in the geologic evolution of Precambrian and Phanerozoic Cordilleran-style continental margins is reflected in a
similar metallogenic record being preserved in metamorphosed rocks of all such orogens, regardless of geologic age
(Goldfarb et al., 2001).
Continent-continent orogens: A second type of orogen is
termed continent-continent collisional or T ethyan. It is typically marked by the closure of an ocean basin, a single welldefined Z- or C-shaped suture zone containing ophiolites between blocks of continental crust, a magmatic arc on the
active margin, and deformation of passive margin sequences.
Collision is orthogonal to oblique, with an exceptional amount
of crustal thickening, and reworking of the older crustal
blocks (Windley, 1995; Sengor and Natalin, 1996a). This tectonism includes metamorphism, widespread partial melting
of the lower crust during lithosphere thickening, delamination, and commonly underplating by mafic magmas. Depending on the structural complexity , these orogens may show
abundant, high-level overthrusting exemplified by the Alpine
type or limited thrusting of allochthonous blocks as in the Himalayan type (Sengor, 1990; Sengor and Natalin, 1996a).

swarm. Alternatively, the plumes spread laterally under the


normal continental lithospheric mantle (Fig. 2B). Plume activity, particularly of superplumes, is episodic, with maxima at
~3.8, 3.4, 3.0, 2.7, 2.4, 1.9, and 1.7 Ga, with one at ~250 Ma
and another superplume in the Cretaceous (Fig. 3A; Larson,
1991; Ernst and Buchan, 2001; Abbott and Isley , 2002).
Mantle plumes occur in three broad varieties, as discussed
below.
Long-lived hotspots with low magma flux: These plumes
generate ocean islands, such as the Emperor-Hawaii chain on
oceanic lithosphere, or hotspot tracks on continents, e.g., the
Columbia River-Yellowstone track spanning 45 Ma to the present (Schissel and Smail, 2001).
Short-lived plumes that generate flood basalt provinces:
Plumes that erupt through oceanic lithosphere form oceanic
plateaus, including Kerguelen, Ontong-Java, and Iceland, or
continental flood basalts. For the Siberian and Deccan continental flood basalts, 1 to 3 106 km3 of flows erupted during
<1 m.y; tholeiitic basalts predominate, with minor alkali
basalts and picrites. The T ertiary N orth Atlantic igneous
province, which includes continental flood basalts on Greenland, a volcanic passive margin on eastern N orth America,
and the Iceland plume, collectively represent a transition
from continental flood basalts to an ocean plateau as N orth
America and Scandinavia rifted apart. The three elements of
superplumes, continental flood basalts, giant dike swarms,
and mafic intrusive complexes, are collectively referred to as
Mantle plumes
large igneous provinces (Coffin and Eldholm, 1994; Saunders
et al., 1997; Eldholm and Coffin, 2000). All three elements
Pirajno (2000) gives a comprehensive treatment of mantle
are present in the 1267 Ma Mackenzie giant dike swarm,
plumes and ore deposits upon which this section draws exCoppermine CFB, and the Muskox intrusive complex of
tensively. Jets of anomalously hot mantle are ejected from
thermal boundary layers, most likely the core-mantle bound- northern Canada (Ernst and Buchan, 2004). Giant dike
ary at 2,900 km, which advect through the mantle by thermal swarms may represent a failed triple junction and, therefore,
buoyancy on timescales of only 10 to 50 m.y. The plume head point toward a paleo-ocean (Fahrig, 1987). The secular distriis 500 to 1,000 km in diameter , whereas the tail, which feeds bution of iron formations, from 3.8 Ga to 40 Ma, is controlled
by mantle plumes.
the head, is ~100 km in diameter . At the top of the upper
Superswells or mantle upwellings: These features have dimantle, ambient temperature is ~1,280C, the plume head
ameters of ~10,000 km and spawn hotspots. There are two
~1,480C, and the tail ~1,700C. Plumes conductively heat
ambient mantle, which is entrained into the plume head. On known, one centered on the South Pacific and another below
Africa, both with dynamic topography (McN utt, 1998). The
impinging upon normal lithosphere at ~150-km depth, the
African superswell was responsible for rifting of Gondwana
plume head flattens to 1,000 to 2,000 km while undergoing
from Laurasia.
extensive decompressional melting (White, 1992). AnomPlumes and ore deposits: All three expressions of mantle
alously hot plumes, with high buoyancy-driven flux, advect
plumes have a role in mineral provinces, from diamond fields
basalts through continental lithosphere to erupt as continental flood basalts. Basaltic liquids from cooler plumes, or from (Gurney et al., 2005) to Ni-Cu-PGE deposits (Pirajno, 2000).
Hotspot plumes are approximately fixed with respect to the
adiabatically decompressed asthenosphere under thinned
mantle, so ocean island chains provide a reference frame for
continental crust, pond at the Moho density filter (Herzberg
et al., 1983); here they fractionate to form anorogenic gabbro- hotspots that constrains plate motions (Norton, 2000). Mantle
plumes and lithospheric plate motions are not strongly
anorthosite complexes that may host Fe-T
i-V deposits
coupled. However, where a plume erupts proximal to a spread(Cawthorn et al., 2005) and also fuse refractory lower crust
ing center it may capture the ridge, as with the Iceland
into A-type granites with which Fe oxide-Cu-Au-REE
provinces are associated (Fig. 2B; Windley, 1995; Williams et plumeMid-Atlantic Ridge. Plumes may interact with convergent margins, such as impingement of the mid-Cretaceous
al., 2005).
Crucial to the understanding of magmatic Ni-Cu (Arndt et Marie Byrd Land plume with the Phoenix plate subducting beneath Antarctica (W eaver et al., 1994). Present-day examples
al., 2005; Barnes and Lightfoot, 2005) and chromite deposits
include the Samoan plume proximal to the T onga trench and
(Cawthorn et al., 2005), as well as deposits associated with
interaction of the Y ellowstone plume with the Farallon plate
anorogenic magmatism, is that plumes do not melt by decompression at ~250 km beneath Archean continental lithos- (Schissel and Smail, 2001). Plume-ocean ridge and plume-convergent margin interactions cause some of the largest known
pheric mantle but rather penetrate laterally as dikes. These
structural and geochemical anomalies (Ito et al., 2003).
include the 2596 Ma Great Dyke and 2200 Ma Matachewan
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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

Ocean plateaus with >30-km thickness of basaltic crust,


erupted from anomalously hot mantle plumes, resist subduction, and cause collisional orogenesis when they jam up
against a subduction zone (Cloos, 1993). The Solomon-New
Ireland arc has migrated to capture the 120 to 90 Ma OntongJava ocean plateau, which is being jammed against the subduction zone; this is where the Lihir Au deposit has formed
(MacInnes et al., 1999). Formation of the giant 2.7 Ga Kidd
Creek VMS deposit followed capture of the Abitibi arc by an
ocean plateau (Wyman et al., 1999)
There is compelling evidence for the influence of mantle
plumes on conditions of surface geology, the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere (Larson, 1991; Coffin and Eldholm,
1994; Kerr, 1998). Isley and Abbott (1999) and Condie et al.
(2001) demonstrated a coincidence in timing of mantle
plumes, deposition of iron formations and black shales, and
the chemical index of alteration. Ocean plateaus that erupted
from plumes formed thick crust that displaced oceans across
continents and caused flooding of continental shelves; the
plumes also resulted in the discharge of Fe-rich hydrothermal
fluids and the release of CO 2 and other gases that generated
greenhouse conditions, causing intense silicate weathering
(Kerr, 1998).
Sedimentary basins
The geodynamic setting of sedimentary basins, and their
lifespan and fate, have been summarized by Ross (2000) and
Woodcock (2004). This discussion deals only with foreland,
intracontinental, passive margin, and oceanic basins, drawing
mainly on these summaries (Fig. 4).
Foreland basins develop as a consequence of tectonic loading
at convergent margins. A classic profile involves a foredeep axis
proximal to an orogen, a continental ramp or outer slope, and a
peripheral bulge. Lithosphere elastic thickness determines
basin characteristics; transitions from narrow, deep-water flysch
sequences to wide, marine or fluvial molasses facies reflect
propagation of the load from elastically thin lithosphere at a seaward position to thicker continental lithosphere. Proterozoic
unconformity U deposits and Phanerozoic Mississippi V alleytype (MVT) Pb-Zn deposits accumulated in foreland basins that
evolved to intracratonic basins (Fig. 4B, D).
The pattern of stratigraphic onlap (so-called steershead
geometry) of intracratonic and passive margin sequences is
consistent with extension being driven by far -field forces, in
which differential tensile strength causes mantle lithosphere
to extend over a wider area than the crust (Fig. 4B,C; White
and McKenzie, 1988). The W illiston as well as Michigan and
Illinois basins developed inboard of the Cordilleran and Appalachian orogens, respectively, but the cause of this relationship is not clear (Ross, 2000). According to Pysklywec and
Mitrovica (2000), some intracratonic basins stem from dynamic topography generated by foundering of subducted
lithosphere. Sublithospheric loading generates flexural wavelengths one order of magnitude longer than surface loads, accounting for both the relative dimensions and lifespans of intracontinental versus foreland basins (cf. W oodcock, 2004).
Proterozoic sedimentary-hosted SEDEX Pb-Zn deposits developed in intracontinental rifts (Leach et al., 2005a,b).
Passive-margin sequences that develop as intracontinental
rifts evolve into ocean basins. A typical sequence is rifting of
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1107

continental lithosphere followed by sedimentation, magmatism linked to thinned continental lithosphere, and evolution to ocean lithosphere. The Atlantic margin, with its continental shelf, continental slope, and rise, is a typical
example. The sedimentary wedge may be deposited at normal, oblique, or transform continental margins. T ransfer
faults accommodate differential extension rates and patterns
of sedimentation. Subsidence initiates by lithospheric thinning from far-field forces and then evolves by thermal contraction and sediment loading. Basins driven mainly by thermal subsidence are characterized by concave-up subsidence
patterns, as documented for aging oceanic lithosphere,
whereas foreland basins have concave-down subsidence patterns (Fig. 4C; Ross, 2000).
Phosphorites and iron formations accumulated on passive
margins from ~2.4 Ga. Rifted passive-margin clastic sedimentary sequences, formed at low latitudes, are favorable
hosts for Phanerozoic Pb-Zn ores. The deposits are generated
by metal-rich brines that evolved in adjacent carbonate units
and basement (Leach et al., 2005a,b). Placer deposits of T iZr-Hf are preserved in T eriary and younger passive margin
sequences (Freeman and Donaldson, 2004).
Where extension is focused within a continent, as in the
Basin and Range province, a continental back-arc basin may
develop. The Bathurst and Iberian pyrite VMS provinces are
examples of continental back-arc basins that closed; sill-sediment complexes in the Gulf of Cortez may be a present-day
analog (Boulter, 1993).
The supercontinent and/or superevent cycle
The concept of the supercontinent cycle emerged in the
late 1980s from recognition that the continental masses assemble and disaggregate in a cyclic pattern on a timescale of
200 to 500 m.y. (Fig. 5; Hoffman, 1988; Murphy and Nance,
1992; Rogers, 1996; Rogers and Santosh, 2004). All of the
present continents formed a single landmass, Pangea, that
broke up ~180 Ma. Previous supercontinents were Kenorland
at ~2.7 to 2.2 Ga, Columbia at ~1.7 to 1.4 Ga, and Rodinia at
~1.0 at 0.6 Ga (Fig. 5; Condie, 2004; Zhao et al., 2004).
A consensus has emerged that rifting of continents and dispersal of supercontinents is generally triggered by a mantle
plume, in keeping with Zieglers (1993) estimates of tractional
forces for plumes that impinge on continents (White, 1992;
Duncan and T urcotte, 1994; Carlson, 1997). Sill-sediment
complexes of the Mesoproterozoic Sullivan Pb-Zn deposit and
Neoproterozoic basalt sequences associated with the Central
African Cu province are expressions of mantle plumes that dispersed the supercontinents Columbia and Rodinia, respectively. Condie (1998, 2004) envisaged superevent cycles at 2.7,
1.9, and 1.2 Ga in which graveyards of subducted oceanic
lithosphere, stored at the 670-km D' boundary , avalanched to
the core-mantle boundary , thus ejecting plumes from that
boundary and causing plume bombardment under the lithosphere (Fig. 5). Larson (1991) associated the increased rate of
ocean crust formation at ridges and plateaus in the Pacific
Ocean with a superplume ejected from the core-mantle
boundary, coinciding with cessation of magnetic field reversals
at 41 Ma (for a contrary view see Anderson, 1994).
Murphy and Nance (1992) recognized two principal styles
of supercontinent aggregation, which they termed internal

1107

1108

KERRICH ET AL.

FIG. 5. A. Secular distribution of collisional orogens and juvenile crust, with supercontinents (modified from Condie,
1997; Columbia after Zhao et al., 2004). B. Secular distribution of mineral deposits, modified from Meyer (1988). C. Supercontinent cycle, modified from Rodgers (1996).
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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

and external. Internal aggregation corresponds to continentcontinent collision, for exmple, the Alpine-Himalayan, Appalachian, and Grenville orogenic belts. External aggregation
corresponds to Cordilleran-style tectonics, where allochthonous tectonostratigraphic terranes are transpressively accreted to a continental margin. Neoarchean magmatic-accretionary events in the Superior and Slave provinces of Canada,
Finland, southern Africa, India, and W estern Australia likely
correspond to an early external supercontinent aggregation
that was associated with development of orogenic gold
provinces (Kerrich and Wyman, 1994). Internal cycles involve
internal oceans between continents. The North and South Atlantic Oceans have opened and closed two or three times, as
N orth America-South America and Europe-Africa diverged
and then closed in Wilson cycles. The Pacific Ocean is an external ocean outboard of the external Cordilleran orogen.
Supercontinents may assemble in two configurations. Introversion involves breakup, opening then closing of interior
oceans, and reassembly. In extroversion, following supercontinent dispersal, exterior margins of continental fragments rotate and collide during reassembly . Combinations of the
processes may occur. The Paleozoic Appalachian-CaledonianVariscan orogen is an example of supercontinent introversion.
In contrast, during the N eoproterozoic East African and
Brasiliano orogens, the exterior ocean surrounding Rodinia,
which broke up at ~750 Ma, was consumed during the amalgamation of Gondwana, representing extroversion (Murphy
and Nance, 2003).

1109

komatiite-associated Ni deposits (Figs. 1, 2, 3, 5; Kerrich et


al., 2000; Groves et al., 2005).
The abundance of VMS deposits in the Superior province,
particularly when compared to the sparseness of similar deposits in Neoarchean counterpart terranes of India, southern
Africa, and W estern Australia, might be considered contradictory to such a unified framework. However, volcanic rocks
in the Y ilgarn craton of similar age to those of the Superior
province were generally erupted through continental crust
and, therefore, do not correspond to the more primitive
oceanic arc settings represented by the 2.7 Ga VMS-hosting
terranes in Canada (Wyman et al., 1999).
In summary, the empirical association of mineral deposit
classes with specific stages of the supercontinent cycle supports the precept that mineral deposits are products of particular geodynamic settings (Fig. 5).

Archean Geodynamics and Greenstone Terranes


Neoarchean greenstone-granitoid terranes show both differences from and similarities to Proterozoic and Phanerozoic
Cordilleran-type orogenic belts that formed by terrane accretion at convergent margins (Burke et al., 1976; Sleep and
Windley, 1982; Card and Ciesielski, 1986; Friend et al., 1988;
Sengor, 1990; Sleep, 1992; W indley, 1995; Polat et al., 1999).
Komatiitic liquids stem from melting in anomalously hot mantle plumes. Their eruption temperature of 1,650C contrasts
with ~1,200C for basalts. Komatiites are ubiquitous in
Archean greenstone terranes but are rare in Proterozoic or
Phanerozoic counterparts (Arndt, 1994). Together with basalts,
Metallogenic provinces in a supercontinent cycle framework
they represent intraoceanic plateaus or continental flood
In an important synthesis for economic geology, Barley and basalts. Given higher mantle temperatures in Archean plumes,
Groves (1992) showed that the temporal distribution of sevplateau crust would have been thicker , ~30 to 50 km (Fig. 3)
eral major classes of metallic mineral deposits can be related
and thus not able to be subducted; rather , such crust was imto the cyclic aggregation and breakup of the continents in the bricated where plateaus jammed against convergent margins
supercontinent cycle. Metal deposits related to continental
(Bickle, 1986; Abbott et al., 1994a; W yman et al., 1999).
rifting (sedimentary rock-hosted Cu and Pb) would form
At Archean convergent margins, bimodal arc magmatism
mainly during initiation of supercontinent fragmentation,
involved slab dehydration and wedge melting, generating arc
whereas deposits related to convergent tectonics (porphyry
basaltic liquids as in the Phanerozoic (Pearce and Peate,
Cu, VMS, orogenic Au) predominate during periods of sub1995; Wyman, 2003). However, given their high thorium conduction and supercontinent aggregation (Fig. 5).
tents, trondhjemite-tonalite-granite (TTG) batholiths likely
Superimposed on this ~500-m.y. cycle are variations aris- formed as melts of enriched, garnet-amphibolite facies,
ing from preservation, thermal decay , and subtleties of tec- plateau basalt crust subcreted beneath the convergent martonic style. The scarcity of porphyry Cu and epithermal Au
gin, rather than depleted MORB-like crust (Foley et al.,
deposits in rocks older than 200 Ma is widely considered to
2002). The TTG suite is characterized by a secular increase of
be the consequence of their low preservation potential in
Mg number and Ni from 4 to 2 Ga, conferring evidence of the
rapidly eroded magmatic arcs and collisional mountain
involvement of a progressively thicker mantle wedge as subbelts. Preservation potential is considered to be higher in
duction steepened (Martin and Moyen, 2002). Models of the
external (Cordilleran style) than internal (continent-contithermal structure of the mantle predict a transition from flat
nent) mountain belts (Barley and Groves, 1992). The
to steep subduction at ~2.5 Ga, in keeping with the distribuchange in style of base metal-bearing VMS deposits, from
tion of TTG in Archean terranes and the transition in sediArchean Abitibi type to the Phanerozoic Kuroko and Cyprus mentary rock REE patterns at this time (Abbott et al., 1994a;
types, may reflect differences in style of subduction, nature Taylor and McLennan, 1995). Given smaller plates, and a
of the mantle wedge, and composition of arc magmas, and
commensurately longer global ridge system in the Archean
these differences in turn stem from decreasing thermal gra- (Hargraves, 1986), ridge subduction would have been more
dients. Archean crust is resistant to reworking in younger
frequent, accounting for high heat flow in convergent marorogenic events due to its thick, refractory continental
gins, which was responsible for the abundant TTG (Polat and
lithospheric mantle. This characteristic accounts for preser- Kerrich, 2004).
vation of the prodigiously rich orogenic gold provinces of
Similarities between Neoarchean greenstone terranes and
N eoarchean greenstone terranes (Cordilleran-type accrePhanerozoic convergent margins include accretionary tectontion), VMS (back-arc) camps of the Superior province, and
ics, mlanges, subduction-accretion complexes, ophiolites,
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KERRICH ET AL.

and Cenozoic-type arc associations. The Superior province


was assembled by diachronous accretion in a Cordilleran-type
orogen from 2.74 to 2.65 Ga (Card and Ciesielski, 1986; Card,
1990; Thurston et al., 1991; Percival et al., 1994; Calvert and
Ludden, 1999). A few small mlange occurrences have been
documented in Archean terranes (Kusky , 1991; W ang et al.,
1996; Polat and Kerrich, 1999), with mlanges indicating the
presence of subduction-accretion complexes. Precambrian
ophiolites, reviewed by Kusky (2004), indicate paleo-convergent margins. Boninites have been recorded from several
Archean volcanic rock sequences, as well as an association of
adakites, high Mg andesite, and Nb-enriched basalts, typical
of Cenozoic arcs that are linked to shallow subduction of relatively hot oceanic lithosphere (Kerrich et al., 1998; Hollings,
2002; Polat et al., 2003).
Neoarchean greenstone belts are now generally considered
to be Cordilleran-style collages of oceanic arc and plateau terranes, in which orogenesis was induced by plateaus jamming
against arcs. The composite arc-plateau crust was stabilized
by the residue of plume melting, coupled to the composite
crust as continental lithospheric mantle (Wyman and Kerrich,
2002). At Archean convergent margins, shallow subduction
angles, ~11-km-thick oceanic crust (of which only the top ~7
km was occasionally obducted) and relatively high thermal
gradients, can explain the absence of blueschist-eclogite associations and rare ophiolites that generally lack a mantle section (Figs. 2E, 3; cf. Moores et al., 2000).

(Figs. 1, 2C). Sparsity of these deposits in Precambrian terranes reflects the same process responsible for the absence of
blueschists and eclogites, or of complete ophiolite sections,
given that the upper basaltic sections of thicker oceanic
lithosphere were obducted (Fig. 2E; Moores, 2002; Polat et
al., 2004).

VMS deposits
VMS deposits (Franklin et al., 2005) form in oceanic
spreading centers, arcs, and rifts (Hannington et al., 2005),
but mid-ocean-ridge crust is rarely preserved in the geologic
record due to the likelihood that oceanic lithosphere will be
subducted (Cloos, 1993). Many VMS deposits formed at
convergent margins under extensional conditions, specifically
in back arcs, where thinned and fractured lithosphere,
upwelling asthenosphere, and high-temperature magmas
generate long-lived high heat flow and enhanced hydraulic
conductivity (Figs. 2C, 4E). Back-arc lithosphere is more
readily obductible, being young and hot. The fact that all
VMS deposits are associated with some mafic magmatism signifies a functional relationship to thermal anomalies in the
upper mantle (Barrie and Hannington, 1999). A lack of significant VMS deposits in the Mesoproterozoic and N eoproterozoic (Hutchinson, 1981; Meyer , 1981, 1988) reflects the
drift stage in dispersal of first Columbia and then Grenville
orogens that stitched together Rodinia. These orogens now
expose deep erosional levels, which is ultimately due to delamination of mantle lithosphere (Fig. 5).
Metallogeny of Intraoceanic Arcs
Based on rock associations, and therefore tectonic setting,
Barrie and Hannington (1999) and Franklin et al. (2005)
Podiform Cr
classified VMS deposits into five groups. Mafic and bimodal
Podiform bodies of spinel are an important resource of
siliciclastic rock-associated deposits are mainly restricted to
chromium. Most of the deposits are in Caledonian or younger the Phanerozoic. The former consists of tholeiitic with minor
suprasubduction zone ophiolites. Notable are the ~500, ~460, boninitic rocks and includes ocean-ridge deposits that were
and ~370 Ma ophiolites of northwestern China, obducted
obducted as part of ophiolite fragments, exemplified by
during accretion of arc terranes along composite sutures beTethyan ores of Cyprus and Turkey. The geodynamic setting
tween the Kazakhstan, Siberian, and T
arim blocks; Apis a suprasubduction zone, and such magma-ore associations
palachian ophiolites; Hercynian ophiolites of Eurasia;
extend to the Paleoproterozoic Flin Flon VMS province
Tethyan Mesozoic ophiolites, including those in T
urkey, (Wyman, 1999). The latter , characterized by large tonnages
Oman, and Cyprus; and Mesozoic-Cenozoic ophiolites in ac- with high Pb but low Cu contents, formed in a continental
creted terranes of the North American Cordillera. Rare pod- arc or back-arc setting; VMS ores of the Bathurst and Iberiform chromitite bodies have been reported from a 3.0 Ga
ian Pyrite Belt provinces are prominent examples of this
ophiolite in the Ukraine, and the 2.5 Ga Zunhua ophiolite of
group.
the North China craton (Thayer, 1976; Duke, 1996a; Zhou et
The other three groups of VMS deposits have broader secal., 2001; Polat et al., 2004).
ular distributions. Bimodal-mafic and bimodal-felsic group
Podiform bodies are dominated by Cr -rich spinels endeposits occur in oceanic terranes back to the Neoarchean of
veloped by dunite in harzburgite of the mantle section, or the some cratons. The former represent primitive oceanic arcs or
crust-mantle transition, of oceanic lithosphere from intraoback arcs; examples include Noranda and Matagami, Quebec,
ceanic arcs. Podiform morphology reflects mantle flow paths. some ores of Flin Flon, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and
A current model for development of chromitite bodies inJerome, Arizona. The latter represents precipitation of VMS
volves generation initially of hydrous basaltic melts in the
deposits in mature arcs, such as the Mt. Read district, Tasmaperidotitic mantle wedge from dehydration of the subducting nia. A mafic volcanic-volcaniclastic rock and turbidite associslab. Hydrous melts depolymerize, enhancing the octahedral ation with VMS formation occurred from the Mesoproterosite preference for Cr 3+. Subsequent reaction of melt with
zoic through the Phanerozoic. These deposits developed in
peridotite in an open system induces polymerization accomsediment-rich oceanic rifts, notably W indy Craggy , British
panied by precipitation of Cr spinel at ~7-km depth and 0.2
Columbia, or in propagating continental rifts, exemplified by
GPa (Fig. 2C; Edwards et al., 2000).
the Besshi district of Japan. The Middle Valley and Escanaba
Podiform chromite deposits reflect obduction of intraotrough, and the Sea of Cortez, are present-day metal-rich
ceanic arc crust-upper mantle sections in both continent-con- analogs to these two environments in the final group, respectinent (Appalachian, T ethyan) and Cordilleran-type orogens
tively (Barrie and Hannington, 1999).
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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

Intraoceanic and Continental Margin Arc


Porphyry-Epithermal Systems
Porphyry Cu-Mo-Au (hereafter referred to as porphyry Cu)
and related epithermal Au-Ag deposits are predominantly , but
not exclusively , a Phanerozoic occurrence (Seedorff et al.,
2005; Simmons et al., 2005). The majority of both deposit types
occur in Mesozoic and Cenozoic subduction-related subvolcanic plutonic complexes and related volcano-sedimentary sequences, but this may be in part a function of the low preservation potential of shallow-level crustal sequences within active
convergent plate margins. Rapid uplift and erosion, tectonic
erosion, and collision (either with oceanic terranes such as island arcs, seamounts, or plateaus, or with continental masses)
commonly result in destruction of supracrustal sequences in
both oceanic and continental volcanic arcs. Nevertheless, deposits of both types do occur in older terranes, but with increasing rarity back to the Mesoarchean, to the point that Precambrian occurrences in Australia, Canada, India, and
Scandinavia are noted as exceptions; the earliest known deposits are ~3.3 Ga in age (Barley , 1982). The characteristics of
Precambrian deposits are little different from those of their
Phanerozoic counterparts (Gal and Isohanni, 1979; Barley ,
1982; Roth et al., 1991; Fraser , 1993; Sikka and Nehru, 1997;
Stein et al., 2004), suggesting that similar tectonomagmatic
processes were involved in their formation.

1111

subduction, both of which may result in higher temperatures


being achieved in the slab at shallow depths. Normal subduction of oceanic lithosphere results predominantly in dehydration and release of a water-rich fluid phase into the overlying
mantle wedge. Fluid release probably begins at the shallowest levels of subduction but appears to reach a maximum at
depths of ~100 km, corresponding to the final breakdown
conditions of serpentine, amphibole, and chlorite, all of which
appear to have maximum stabilities at ~3 GPa and 700
to
850C (Schmidt and Poli, 1998). These depths correspond to
the characteristic depth of the Benioff zone beneath volcanic
arcs, suggesting a direct connection between slab dehydration
and magma generation. Micas may persist to greater depths
and higher temperatures, which may, in part, explain the observed K2O increase in magmas toward the back arc (Schmidt
et al., 2004).
Convection of metasomatized peridotite into warmer central parts of the mantle wedge, or direct fluid infiltration, result in partial melting to form high Mg basalts with as much
as 2.5 wt percent H2O, enrichments in large ion lithophile elements, relatively high oxidation state compared with MORB
(as much as two log units above fayalite-magnetite-quartz),
and high sulfur contents (experiments suggest S concentrations as high as ~1.5 wt % in oxidized basaltic melts; Jugo et
al., 2005).
Concentrations of chalcophile and highly siderophile elements in these primary melts may be controlled by the stabilPorphyry Cu deposits
ity and abundance of residual sulfide phases in the mantle
Porphyry Cu deposits show one of the clearest relationships wedge source, which is in turn a function of oxidation state
(Candela, 1992). W ith increasing oxidation state, concentrato specific plate tectonic processes of any ore deposit type
tions of chalcophile elements, such as Cu, will reach a maxi(Fig. 6; Sillitoe, 1972; Burnham, 1981). The relationship to
subduction of oceanic crust relates primarily to the large flux mum prior to the concentration of highly siderophile elements, such as Au and platinum group elements (Richards,
of water and other volatiles from the slab into the overlying
2005, and references therein). This observation may explain
asthenospheric mantle wedge. As recently reviewed by
some of the variation in Cu/Au ratios in porphyry systems,
Richards (2003; see also Candela and Piccoli, 2005), these
volatiles metasomatize the mantle wedge and reduce its melt- with Cu-rich deposits being generated under normal subducing point, such that hydrous basaltic magmas are produced by tion conditions leading to moderate mantle wedge oxidation,
and Au-rich deposits being formed under more extreme or
partial melting in the highest temperature regions. These
atypical conditions that result in complete destruction of
melts are the ultimate sources of more evolved magmas that
residual sulfide phases either by extreme oxidation or multiare emplaced into the overlying crust and which may generple stages of partial melting (e.g., during tectonic transitions
ate porphyry and related epithermal deposits.
Subduction represents the return flow of materials into the such as subduction-polarity reversal or termination, back-arc
mantle to compensate for the creation of new oceanic lithos- extension, or arc collision; Solomon, 1990; W yborn and Sun,
1994; Richards, 1995). Mungall (2002) has recently suggested
phere at mid-ocean ridges. But processes of sea-floor metathat highly oxidized adakite magmas produced by slab meltmorphism, resulting in hydration and introduction of other
ing may also have this effect of sulfide destruction.
sea water -derived elements, such as S, Cl, and alkalis (exProcesses affecting the composition of primary subductionchanged for Ca), mean that the return flow is modified from
related magmas thus appear to be the most fundamental conthe original MORB composition. Upon return into the mantrols on metallogenesis in volcanic-plutonic arcs. Although
tle, these same water -soluble elements are released during
not all arcs or magmatic suites within arcs host economic porprograde dehydration reactions, whereby minerals such as
serpentine, amphibole, chlorite, zoisite, and lawsonite (Fig.6; phyry Cu deposits, few deposits are known that cannot be
clearly related to subduction magmatism or to magmas deTatsumi, 1986; Schmidt and Poli, 1998; W
inter, 2001;
Forneris and Holloway, 2003) are converted to progressively rived from subduction-modified mantle; a possible exception,
which is associated with a continental rift, is described by
more anhydrous blueschist- and eclogite-facies assemblages.
Blecha (1974). Because the exsolution of metalliferous hyAdditional components may be added by subduction of seafloor sediment and tectonic erosion of upper plate rocks (e.g., drothermal fluids occurs in the final stages of magmatic evolution, many factors can intervene between initial magma
de Hoog et al., 2001).
generation and upper crustal emplacement to affect the oreBasaltic crust of the downgoing slab may partially melt
where the lithosphere is young (<25 m.y.; Defant and Drum- forming potential of these magmas and their exsolved fluids.
The simplest constraint is the magmatic flux into the upper
mond, 1990; Peacock et al., 1994) and/or during shallow
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1111

1112

KERRICH ET AL.

FIG. 6. A. Normal subduction configuration beneath a continental arc (from Richards, 2003; modified from Winter, 2001).
Slab dehydration leads to hydration of the overlying asthenospheric mantle wedge and partial melting in the hotter central
regions of the wedge. Hydrous basaltic melts pool at the base of the crust due to density contrasts, where they fractionate,
release heat, and interact with crustal materials to generate more evolved, less dense andesitic magmas (by melting, assimilation, storage, and homogenizationMASH process of Hildreth and Moorbath, 1988), which can then rise to upper crustal
levels. It is these evolved magmas that are directly associated with porphyry Cu deposit formation. B. Oblique convergence
leads to the generation of structurally permeable transpressional sites along trench-linked strike-slip faults, up which magma
may ascend from lower crustal MASH zones. Rapid, voluminous emplacement of magmas in the upper crust is regarded here
to be a prerequisite for the subsequent formation of large porphyry Cu deposits by magmatic-hydrothermal fluid exsolution.

crust. If the rate and volume of supply of magma is limited,


then so too will be the flux of heat, metals, and other oreforming components (Fig. 6). This constraint implies that the
largest porphyry systems will be associated with long-lived
and voluminous arc magmatic suites.
Tosdal and Richards (2001) and Richards (2003) reviewed
structural controls on the emplacement of porphyry magmas
in the upper crust and argued that tectonic stresses acting on
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a regional architecture of translithospheric structures may influence the location of magma ascent by providing relatively
permeable pathways. Optimal sites are extensional structural
domains formed at jogs and stepovers in large strike-slip fault
systems deforming under mildly oblique compressional stress
(Fig. 6B). Although magma ascent can occur in the absence
of such structures, their existence may act to focus magma
flux, thus enhancing subsequent ore-forming potential. A

1112

METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

spatial relationship of ore deposits to such structural nodes,


often recognized in regional exploration as lineament intersections, has been noted in many porphyry and related epithermal districts (e.g., Corbett and Leach, 1998; Sasso and
Clark, 1998; Padilla Garza et al., 2001; Richards et al., 2001;
Chernicoff et al., 2002; Sapiie and Cloos, 2004).
Other models for porphyry Cu formation have invoked the
direct involvement of slab melts (adakites; Sajona and Maury,
1998; Oyarzun et al., 2001) or the role of crustal thickening
and shallowing of subduction angle in affecting magma generation and composition (Kay et al., 1999). However
, although these processes may be important locally, they do not
seem to be universally applicable, and a more general relationship to subduction magmatism is implied. V
ariations
among the porphyry suite may arise from the wide variety of
possible tectonic configurations in subduction zones, and specific events or combinations of events may cumulatively act to
maximize (or reduce) porphyry-forming potential. N otably ,
differences in porphyry systems in oceanic versus continental
arcs occur mainly in subtle details and not in overall
processes. Oceanic arc systems tend to be associated with
somewhat more mafic (dioritic) plutonic rocks, whereas continental arc systems are typically associated with more felsic
systems (Hollister, 1975; Kesler et al., 1975). There is a common tendency for oceanic systems also to be somewhat more
Au versus Mo rich in continental systems, although many exceptions exist. Both of these variations may relate to the degree of fractionation and crustal interaction experienced by
the primary magmas (oceanic systems representing more
primitive systems) and continental porphyries being more
fractionated (loss of Au) and contaminated with crustal components (higher Mo; Farmer and DePaolo, 1984; Blevin and
Chappell, 1992).
Epithermal Au-Ag deposits
Historically, an understanding of the relationship between
shallow-level epithermal Au-Ag deposits and subvolcanic porphyry systems was slower to develop than the overall relationship to convergent plate margins. This was primarily due
to problems of preservation and exposure level, which meant
that where near-surface deposits were preserved, erosion had
not penetrated deeply enough to reveal underlying magmatic-hydrothermal systems. Conversely, where porphyry deposits were exposed, overlying epithermal deposits had already been removed. Consequently , near -surface advanced
argillic alteration, characteristic of high-sulfidationtype epithermal deposits, was not included in the classic model of
porphyry alteration and mineralization zoning of Lowell and
Guilbert (1970). Nevertheless, Sillitoe (1973) made an early
connection between porphyry formation and surficial volcanic and fumarolic activity, and later studies, such as those of
the adjacent Far Southeast (porphyry) and Lepanto (high-sulfidation epithermal) deposits by Arribas et al. (1995) and
Hedenquist et al. (1998), clearly demonstrated a connection
between these distinct ore-forming environments. As such,
the tectonic controls on high-sulfidation epithermal mineralization are closely related to those affecting porphyry deposits. However, economic deposits of both types need not
form together, because local details of fluid evolution, transport, and deposition processes may favor ore deposition in
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1113

one or the other environment but not necessarily both environments. For example, Bissig et al. (2002) recently proposed
that regional uplift and erosion history was critical in controlling the development of mineralized epithermal systems in
the El Indio-Pascua belt (Chile and Argentina), which are associated only with apparently barren plutons. Thus, drilling
beneath a known epithermal deposit will not necessarily reveal an economic porphyry deposit, although evidence of a
high-temperature magmatic hydrothermal system is likely to
be encountered.
Unlike high-sulfidation systems, low-sulfidation epithermal
deposits do not show a clear , exclusive relationship to subduction zone magmatism, and many deposits are generated
by thermal anomalies caused by crustal extension, such as
epithermal Au-Ag deposits in the Basin and Range district,
Nevada (Berger and Bonham, 1990; John, 2001; Simmons
et al., 2005). In this respect, the involvement of specific
magmatic components (both volatiles and metals) in low-sulfidation epithermal systems is less clear, and the key input for
such systems may simply be a heat source of any origin. By
contrast, intermediate-sulfidation epithermal systems are
commonly found in porphyry districts, and either a direct or
distal association with magmatism has been proposed in many
instances (e.g., Rye, 1993; Hedenquist et al., 1996; Hayba,
1997; Faure et al., 2002). A common structural control on
most epithermal-type deposits is extensional faulting and
brecciation, either generated regionally by tectonic stress
fields (as in the case of the Basin and Range) or locally by
forces involved with magma emplacement (crustal doming)
or by elevated fluid pressure (hydraulic fracturing). The latter
tectonic condition is commonly generated in association with
porphyry formation but not exclusively so.
Metallogeny of Cordilleran Orogens
Metallogenic context
In contrast to the shallow crustal regions that characterize
continental magmatic arcs, as described above, much of an
evolved orogen exposes rocks that were deformed and metamorphosed at deeper crustal levels. Crustal rocks that would
have hosted porphyry and related epithermal mineral deposits are typically unroofed and eroded in fore- and back-arc
regions. The exposed middle crustal rocks in these regions are
dominated, in contrast, by mineral deposits that reflect
deeper hydrothermal processes that are active in convergent
to transform continental margins. These processes form
mainly orogenic Au deposits, with commonly related As, W ,
Sb, and Hg resources. In addition, preaccretionary mineral
deposits, such as podiform Cr and VMS deposits that were
described above, may also be present and hosted within the
same blocks of accreted juvenile crust (Fig. 1A).
High heat flow and intense fluid regimes are important tectonic features inherent to most Cordilleran orogens. The generation of Barrovian P-T conditions is typical for progressive
accretion of a broad zone of radiogenic juvenile material
scraped off a downgoing slab, where clockwise P-T -time trajectories generate deeper and later metamorphism. Under
these heat-flow conditions, peak metamorphism at mid-crustal
levels (greenschist facies) predates peak metamorphism in
the deeper crust, such that fluids generated by dehydration

1113

1114

KERRICH ET AL.

reactions in deeper crust advect to the mid-crust where they


overprint the peak-metamorphic assemblage (McCuaig and
Kerrich, 1998). Within about 15 m.y. of accretion, large areas
of the mid-crust will begin to experience a significant rise in
geotherms (e.g., Jamieson et al., 1998). The causes of the
thermal episode are complex; increased radioactive heat production of accreted material is the most commonly cited trigger, but shear heating, massive fluid flow, crustal thickening,
ridge subduction, or slab rollback are all processes that may
add heat into the growing continental margin. Rapid uplift
and/or continued outboard subduction typically yields a pattern of inverted isotherms, such that more highly metamorphosed rocks are thrust above lower grade rocks (Peacock,
1987).
Fluid reservoirs are present both in the subducted slab, as
noted above, and in the accreted sedimentary and volcanic
rock sequences. As described above, slab devolatilization
releases volatiles into the overlying mantle wedge. The prograding accreted juvenile crust represents a significant second reservoir , with voluminous fluid release across various
metamorphic isograds (Fyfe et al., 1978; Powell et al., 1991).
Estimates for progressive metamorphism of an average pelite
are that about 5 vol percent of the rock will be lost to the fluid
phase at metamorphic reaction boundaries (e.g., Walther and
Orville, 1982). Fluids released at greenschist- and amphibolite-facies conditions typically consist of H2O, CO2, CH4, and
N2 (Mullis, 1979), as well as relative enrichments of H2S from
desulfidation reactions (Ferry, 1981), therefore explaining the
dominance of C-O-H-N-S fluids in Cordilleran orogens. Specific volatile composition of these fluids generated during
metamorphism will depend on the composition of the juvenile rocks, particularly on the clay , carbonate, and organic
matter content (Yardley, 1997). Numerous studies (see summary by Goldfarb et al., 2005) also indicate a progressive mobilization of As, Au, B, Hg, Sb, and W in such fluids with increasing degree of metamorphism. Concentration of these
species in metamorphic fluids may determine, to a large part,

mineral resource potential within Cordilleran orogens. Silica


metasomatism in both the mantle wedge and overlying crust
is commonplace (Manning, 1997) and, as a result, there is a
consistent association of epigenetic ore deposits in metamorphic environments with large quartz vein systems (Fig.7).
Orogenic Au
The fore-arc regions of Cordilleran orogens inherently are
characterized by widespread orogenic gold deposits. The type
Cordilleran orogen of western North America, which is still
evolving, may have begun to form anywhere from 400 to 200
m.y. ago, depending on how an orogen is defined. Subsequent
to Rodinian rifting in the Neoproterozoic, the Pacific margin
of North America was the passive margin site of sedimentation through the Middle Devonian (Dickinson, 2004). By the
Late Devonian, convergent tectonism began along the margin, with the Late Devonian to Early Mississippian Antler (or
Ellesmerian in the far north) and Late Permian to Early Triassic Sonoma allochthons of oceanic rocks being thrust over
the miogeoclinal shelf edge (Burchfiel et al., 1992). Such obduction of oceanic rocks was not associated with any type of
subduction zone geodynamics, continental arc development,
or metamorphism, and this low-temperature tectonism also
lacked any associated ore deposit formation of significance.
Cordilleran orogenesis essentially began with the accretion of
more than 200 terranes along the seaward side of the former
passive margin post-Early Triassic (Fig.1A; Coney et al., 1980;
Monger et al., 1982). The exact time of initiation of simultaneous slab subduction and terrane accretion, and thus the
best estimate of the start of orogenesis, could be any time between ~240 and 70 Ma. Moores et al. (1999) noted that there
is a lack of evidence for such terrane collision along much of
the margin prior to the younger part of this age range.
With the onset of subduction-accretion and the deeper and
later style of metamorphism, economically significant orogenic Au deposits have formed within mainly greenschist facies rocks of the Cordilleran orogen for probably the last 170

FIG. 7. Cordilleran-type orogens are recognized for the widespread distribution of orogenic gold deposits in metamorphosed juvenile rocks on either side of the magmatic arc. Ore-forming fluids in the fore arc may be derived from prograde
metamorphism of accreted material above a subducting slab and from the slab itself; where slab fluids are released into the
mantle wedge, mantle-derived melts may carry some of the fluid into the accreted oceanic rocks. The metalliferous fluids
are focused along major crustal shear zones in the fore arc, which previously may have been sites of terrane suturing.
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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

m.y. (Fig. 5; Goldfarb et al., 2001). The youngest such ores


are the ~50 Ma gold deposits on Chichagof Island, southeastern Alaska. However , it is likely that younger orogenic gold
deposits have formed at depth within the fore arc of the orogen since the middle Eocene, but these mid-crustal ore-hosting regimes have yet to be uplifted and exposed at the surface
(Fig. 7; Goldfarb et al., 2000).
The most significant lode deposits are associated with terrane-bounding fault systems. Where no such major conduits
occur within a deeper and later thermal sequence, veins are
smaller and more widely distributed, and world-class economic
gold lodes are unlikely to have formed (e.g., Chugach Mountains/Kenai peninsula, N ome, Klondike). Both exotic oceanic
blocks, such as hosts for the Mother Lode and Juneau gold
belt, and terranes of pericratonic miogeoclinal strata, including
the Fairbanks and Klondike districts in the Y ukon-Tanana terrane, all of which were translated along the N orth American
margin, are equally likely to host orogenic gold deposits.
The oldest gold lodes in the North American Cordillera are
those of Middle and Late Jurassic in the Canadian sector and
Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous in California (Goldfarb et
al., 1998). In Alaska, both gold and arcs young seaward, from
~100 Ma in the north and interior to ~60 to 50 Ma along the
present-day active margin. T ypically, the orogenic gold
provinces occur at geologic and structurally favorable locations in terranes of the fore arc, such as within the Juneau
gold belt and Sierra foothills. However , where arcs are relatively diffuse, rather than occurring as distinct Andean-style
batholiths, important lodes occur within an evolving arc (including hosts to deposits of the Klamath Mountains and Fairbanks districts). Where well-defined batholiths have already
been crystallized and are in the process of regional uplift,
competent margins to these igneous masses may also host
orogenic gold deposits (e.g., W illow Creek). In addition to a
number of small orogenic gold deposits in the Cordilleran
back-arc regions (e.g., Polaris-Taku, northern British Columbia; Humboldt Range, Nevada), the world-class Late Cretaceous Bridge River deposit in southern British Columbia indicates important orogenic gold ore formation, as well as
subduction-related plutonism, may also continue landward
into oceanic terranes inboard of an evolving continental margin arc. The thermal profile of a Cordilleran orogen, rather
than simply a geographic location in a growing margin, apparently controls fluid evolution and ore genesis in the
oceanic rocks (McCuaig and Kerrich, 1998). Indeed, a similar
arc to back-arc position characterizes many of the Late Jurassic-Cretaceous orogenic gold deposits in the deformed terrigeneous rocks to the west of the Siberian craton in eastern
Russia (Fridovsky and Prokopiev, 2002).
The Altaid orogen presents a similar Au-rich Cordillerantype orogen composed of V endian through Jurassic units
accreted to the margins of the Siberian craton (Sengor and
N atalin, 1996b). Inclusion of the Baikalides and Uralides,
both containing important Paleozoic orogenic gold provinces,
remains controversial (Sengor , 1993). T ectonism and deformation span the entire duration of the Paleozoic. Giant Early
Permian orogenic gold deposits (e.g., Muruntau, Zarmitan,
Kumtor, Sawyaerdun) continue along the length of the orogen in what is probably one of the outermost accreted terranes (Yakubchuk et al., 2002). In a pattern similar to that
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1115

observed in Alaska, older orogenic gold provinces reflect earlier subduction closer to the craton margin. Giant deposits
such as Olympiada and Zun-Kholba formed in Proterozoic
terranes along the southwestern side of the craton in the latest N eoproterozoic and early Paleozoic, followed by ores in
more seaward regions of Kazakhstan and the Urals in the
mid-Paleozoic, and then the Permian ores developed along
the edge of the closing Paleo-T ethyan Ocean (Herrington et
al., 2005; Yakubchuk et al., 2005).
Significant characteristics of the Altaid orogen (Y akubchuk
et al., 2005) illustrate other broad tectonic controls on orogenic gold in Cordilleran orogens. First, the immense gold resource at the Sukhoi Log deposit, probably of mid-Paleozoic
age (Goldfarb et al., 2001), is hosted by carbonaceous and
pyrite-rich flysch in a retroarc location within complexly deformed N eoproterozoic pericratonic Baikal terranes (Bulgatov and Gordiyenko, 1999). The thermal event associated
with emplacement of the immense Angara-V itim batholith
(Yarmolyuk et al., 1998) correlates with the major period of
orogenic gold deposit formation within 100 km of the craton.
Thus, there are clearly significant exceptions to the general
observation that orogenic gold ores in a Cordilleran orogen
will always be younger in an oceanward direction. Second,
with the exception of this Baikal region, large gold placers,
such as those that dominate the circum-Pacific goldfields, are
absent. Perhaps this reflects the fact that continent-continent
collision closed the Altaid orogen and has, at least temporarily, formed a Paleozoic craton. This preserved paleoCordilleran margin has thus not been susceptible to reworking and erosion of significant amounts of its contained lode
gold systems. Further support for such a concept is that much
of the interior of the Altaid orogen still contains numerous
Paleozoic porphyry and epithermal deposits (Y akubchuk et
al., 2002, 2005), whereas such shallow crustal levels have
been already removed by uplift and erosion from many of the
circum-Pacific Cordilleran terranes.
The Paleozoic T asman orogen of eastern Australia, which
includes the gold-rich Thomson, Hodgkinson-Broken River ,
and, particularly, Lachlan fold belts, may also be considered
an accretionary orogen but with important differences from
the more classic Cordilleran-type orogens of western N orth
America and the Altaids. Rather than a series of accreted terranes, much of the more deformed and metamorphosed sectors of the orogen reflect a single, quartz-rich turbidite fan
system shed off the Delamerian-Ross highlands in the earliest
Paleozoic. Ordovician-Silurian orogenesis was dominated by
shortening and folding, as is typical of Cordilleran orogens,
but these were thin-skinned tectonic events and lacked any
major uplift of basement blocks (Coney, 1992; Goldfarb et al.,
1998). This difference in crustal response may be indicative
of subduction and/or accretion in association with a large fan
system, rather than a series of terranes, along a continental
margin (Gray and Foster , 2000). The extensive ores of the
Victorian goldfields formed during Late Ordovician deformation, metamorphism, and subduction in the western province
of the Lachlan fold belt (~440 Ma: Bierlein et al., 2001); however, no magmatic arc developed during subduction beneath
the deforming turbidite wedge (Fergusson, 2003).
Thrust-fault development and uplift of the V ictorian ore
host rocks began at ~455 Ma, with perhaps slab rollback ~15

1115

1116

KERRICH ET AL.

m.y. later, providing the main thermal event related to gold


formation (Squire and Miller , 2003). Therefore, the T asman
orogen scenario suggests that deformation, heating, and uplift
of juvenile material along a margin may be essential to fluid
production, fluid migration, and related lode gold formation,
regardless of the presence of associated magmatism or an
abundance of well-defined terrane-bounding fault zones.
The Otago schist belt of the South Island of New Zealand
may be more like a classic Cordilleran orogen, or at least a
part of such an orogen, but also without any magmatic arc activity recognized in the gold-hosting terranes. This PermianCretaceous accretionary wedge contains a number of terranes
that likely amalgamated and were simultaneously deformed
and metamorphosed in Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous (Mortimer, 1993; Gray and Foster, 2004). Orogenic gold formation
occurred in the schists during this deformation and uplift,
probably at ~150 to 130 Ma (Craw , 2002). This time is approximately mid-way through the 150-m.y .-long episode of
terrane translation along the margin of East Gondwana
(Pickard et al., 2000), such that hydrothermal activity occurred within the actively deforming rocks as they were partly
between their original location off the northeastern coast of
Australia and present South Island location.
Another variation on a Cordilleran-style margin might be
east-central Asia, where terranes that now form the Japanese
islands and southeastern Russia were at one time immediately
seaward of the eastern margin of China and have since undergone significant Jurassic(?)-Cretacous strike-slip translation (Sengor and Natalin, 1996b; Charvet et al., 1999). The
resulting Cenozoic configuration, subsequent to northward
migration of the entire subduction and/or accretion complex,
includes rocks of the North China craton now located immediately along the Pacific margin. These Precambrian rocks, as
well as the migrated Mesozoic sequences, contain important
orogenic gold deposits; indeed, the orogenic gold deposits in
the North China craton represent the only known significant
Phanerozoic gold ores in any Precambrian craton (Goldfarb
et al., 2001; Zhou et al., 2002). Gold ores along the northern,
eastern (i.e., Jiaodong), and southern (i.e., Qinling) margins
of the craton formed at ~130 to 120 Ma, during delamination
of the eastern half of the Archean continental lithospheric
mantle (Griffin et al., 1998). Delamination of continental
lithospheric mantle, mantle magmatism (generally at ca.
160125 Ma), and hydrothermal activity may relate to slab
subduction from the north and south, and/or circum-Pacific
oblique subduction along the eastern transform margin, all
during the Mesozoic. Because these rocks were highly metamorphosed already 2 b.y . prior to this Y anshanian orogen,
ore-forming fluids must have been sourced in either the underplated material or the mantle melts, although the gold itself still could have a crustal source. The North China example indicates that decratonization, or delamination, of
Precambrian terranes during some form of continental margin tectonism may still lead to formation of orogenic gold systems, despite the presence of crustal rocks that were first
highly tectonized and devolatilized billions of years earlier .
Cordilleran-style orogens of Precambrian age, although
more difficult to recognize, also inherently contain widespread orogenic gold deposits in, most commonly , greenschist-facies terranes. N eoproterozoic gold-forming events,
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such as the Pan-African of the Nubian-Arabian Shield, show


little difference from younger Phanerozoic accretionary orogenesis. Subduction-accretion in eastern Africa occurred
from 900 to 690 Ma, with the orogen dominated by the addition of new juvenile material (approx 80%), and this terrane
accretion was then followed by 100 m.y . of strike-slip on
major fault systems (e.g., Stern, 1994; Genna et al., 2002),
which corresponds to the onset of oblique convergence affecting much of Gondwana (Veevers, 2003). Widespread gold
deposits formed throughout the shield at this time (Albino et
al., 1995; LeAnderson et al., 1995), which probably included
the great goldfields of ancient Egypt-N ubia (Klemm et al.,
2001), and other important ores along the southern margin of
the opening T ethyan ocean basin such as the T uareg and
Nigerian Shields of W est Africa. The Halls Creek orogen of
northern Australia, host to the T elfer deposit, is also of this
age.
The same style of accretionary tectonics appears to have
characterized the Paleoproterozoic, as in the 2.1 Ga Birimian
terrane, W est African Shield; 1.8 Ga Homestake deposit,
South Dakota, of the Trans Hudson orogen; and 1.7 Ga Ashburton and Pine Creek gold provinces of northern Australia
(Hirdes et al., 1996; Attoh and Ekwueme, 1997; Sener et al.,
2005). Similarly , gold-rich provinces in the broad,
N eoarchean, Cordilleran-type superfamily of accretionary
orogens have been documented in the Superior province
(Kerrich and Wyman, 1990; Polat and Kerrich, 2001), Yilgarn
craton (Myers, 1993, 1995), Slave province (Kusky, 1989), and
Zimbabwe cratons (Kusky , 1998), where major terranebounding faults focused auriferous fluids (Kerrich and Feng,
1992; de Ronde et al., 1997).
The span of Earth history from ~1.8 to ~0.8 to 0.6 Ga is notable for the lack of orogenic gold deposits, despite numerous
Cordilleran orogens, particularly as products of the Mesoproterozoic growth of Rodinia. However, due to the cessation of
extensive cratonization (Archean-type continental lithospheric mantle) on a cooling Earth, much of these continental
margin orogens were not preserved and only high-grade basement rocks remain (Goldfarb et al., 2001). These sectors of
the Cordilleran orogens lie beneath typical gold-favorable environments, and thus more than 1 b.y . of orogenic gold formation has apparently been eroded from the geologic record.
In addition, some of the Rodinian margins were composed of
terranes of mainly continental affinity , exemplified by the
Grenville province (Condie and Chomiak, 1996), which
would have lacked the volatiles, and perhaps gold, which
occur in more juvenile oceanic terranes and are critical for
ore formation.
W and As
Scheelite is almost universally associated with orogenic
gold provinces (Boyle, 1979) in more deeply unroofed metamorphic environments. Many of the largest orogenic gold deposits (e.g., Muruntau, Hollinger -McIntyre, Olympiada, Mt.
Charlotte) contain notable W enrichments, with scheelite signatures commonly being relatively HREE and Sr rich, and
Mo poor (Kempe and Oberthur , 1997). The As-Au-B-Sb-W
geochemical signature, with W at economic concentrations in
places such as Yellow Pine, Idaho (Cookro et al., 1988), characterizes epigenetic ores in most orogenic belts. Historically ,

1116

METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

minor amounts of W have been produced from some shear


zone-hosted quartz veins in orogenic gold provinces, including the Sierra foothills, California, and Otago schists, South
Island, New Zealand (Henley et al., 1976). In the V ariscan of
central and southern Europe, W-rich ores have been particularly economically significant at Mittersill, Austria, the Bohemian Massif, Czech Republic, and Chataigneraie, France.
Recent data indicate that these are epigenetic deposits,
which formed during deeper and later metamorphic events,
surplanting the syngenetic model of some workers (Marignac
and Cuney, 1999). The spatial association between gold and
scheelite in Phanerozoic ore systems is further supported by
the consistent association of abundant scheelite grains in
many placer goldfields.
The spatial association between W and Au in metamorphic
belts, which has been well recognized for decades (Boyle,
1979), likely reflects similar solubilites of the two trace elements in low-salinity, aqueous-carbonic crustal fluids (Foster,
1977). However , in Precambrian orogens, although greenstone belts can be sources for gold ores, most associated mafic
to ultramafic lithologic units would have relatively low concentrations of W and are unlikely sources for W enrichments
in hydrothermal fluids. Thus, hydrothermal systems that have
interacted with basement granitoids may be critical for explaining tungsten-rich quartz vein systems in greenstone belts
(e.g., Zimbabwe craton: Foster, 1977).
Arsenic resources are associated with both a variety of magmatic arc-related, shallow-formed mineral deposits (described in previous sections) and with auriferous veins in
metamorphosed terranes landward and seaward of the arc.
Currently, much of the world s As resources are in different
deposit types in China; however , historically, many Precambrian and Phanerozoic shear zone-hosted orogenic gold deposits were the source for As (Fig. 7).
Hg and Sb
In areas of limited erosion within accretionary orogens, Hg,
Hg-Sb, and Sb deposits, typically with anomalous gold, are
preserved as the most characteristic resources formed within
the upper few kilometers of the allochthonous terranes
(Studmeister, 1984; Dill, 1998). Such deposits, within lowgrade to unmetamorphosed host units, have precipitated
from the same CO 2-, 18O-, N-, and Cs-, Rb-, and K-rich fluid
types that likely formed the Au, W , and As concentrations in
the higher P-T environments (Fig. 7; Goldfarb et al., 1990,
2005). Seismicity along active continental margin faults leads
to discharge of such deep crustal fluids at the Earths surface,
as along the San Andreas and Alpine, New Zealand fault systems (White, 1967, 1981). If associated hydrothermal systems
are large and far travelled, then these Hg- and Sb-rich systems may be important indicators of deeper orogenic Au deposits. Such metallogenic zoning of Cordilleran-style vein
systems has been suggested by many workers (Kerrich, 1987;
N esbitt and Muehlenbachs, 1989; Ashley and Craw , 2004).
The consistent Hg-Sb-As-Au association within such orogens
reflects a similar affinity to bisulfide complexing. Lindgren
(1895) pointed out more than 100 years ago that features such
as the trace element suites, quartz-carbonate-pyrite gangue,
and carbonate-dominant alteration were indicators that orogenic gold deposits in the Mother Lode province and epi0361-0128/98/000/000-00 $6.00

1117

zonal mercury deposits in the California Coast Ranges had


some type of important genetic association.
Given their shallow level of formation, Hg ores are poorly
preserved. With the exception of the giant 400 Ma Almaden
deposit in Spain, other globally productive mercury systems
are ~220 Ma or younger (Obolenskiy and N aumov , 2003).
Genesis of the Almaden Hg province remains problematic:
sea-floor exhalative, mantle plume, and epigenetic shear
zone-related tectonism have all been proposed (Hernandez et
al., 1999). However, the structural setting, in conjunction with
Cr mica-altered peridotite, is consistent with a Cordillerantype suture (Jebrak et al., 2002). Mercury deposits of the
Permo-Triassic of central Asia, Jurassic-Early Cretaceous of
eastern Russia, Late Cretaceous of southwestern Alaska, and
Cenozoic of the western United States are less problematic;
all appear to be products of tectonism in evolving orogens.
The association of Hg ores at Almaden and in the Dometsk
basin anticline in Ukraine, Europe s second most historically
productive Hg province, with older, transcrustal fault systems
(de Boorder et al., 1995), is consistent with Caledonian and
Variscan age orogeny, respectively (Fig. 7).
There is an abundance of Sb deposits, with notably few spatially associated Hg-rich systems, throughout the AcadianHercynian domain of the Canadian Appalachians and much
of western and central Europe (Mossman et al., 1991). This
relationship suggests catchment erosion of the shallowest parts
of the Gondwanan host terranes, such that few near -surface
ores have been preserved beyond supercontinent breakup.
Placer Au
Economic concentrations of Cenozoic placer gold characterize catchments of both the fore- and back-arc regions of
orogens throughout the circum-Pacific (Henley and Adams,
1979; Goldfarb et al., 1998). These include the great goldfields of the Mother Lode (Calfornia), Klondike (Y
ukon),
Fairbanks and N ome (Alaska), the Russian Far East, and
Otago (N ew Zealand). The source of gold is in auriferous
veins of Jurassic to Cretaceous age in uplifted PaleozoicMesozoic terranes. Significant Cenozoic placers accumulated
where Paleozoic gold lodes that formed along the active margin of Gondwana have been uplifted and eroded, such as Victoria, Australia, W estland, N ew Zealand, and the eastern
Cordillera, South America. Similar giant placers apparently
did not form where lodes of the same age, but hosted in Precambrian basement rocks, were uplifted and eroded, as in the
North China craton.
There is a gap in gold placers between 2.0 Ga and 60 Ma
(Fig. 5). The significant Paleoproterozoic placer deposits of
Tarkwa (Ghana) and Jacobina (Brazil) accumulated 100 to
200 m.y. prior to orogenic gold lodes of the same terranes, signifying earlier gold-forming episodes (Groves et al., 2005).
Orogenic gold provinces may also have been eroded from the
catchment to the Witwatersrand basin (Frimmel et al., 2005),
although opinion remains divided as to the origin of those
gold deposits (Law and Phillips, 2005). Preservation of Precambrian placer gold deposits is a function of the thick,
buoyant, and refractory continental lithospheric mantle that
preserved ancient foreland basins, as well as the MesozoicCenozoic Cordilleran-style accretionary orogens in which
orogenic gold provinces developed.

1117

1118

KERRICH ET AL.

Metallogeny of Continent-Continent Orogens


Metallogenic context
Continent-continent orogens, such as the T ethyan AlpineHimalayan, Damaran, or Appalachian-Caledonian, are unlikely to be highly metalliferous. Given little production of juvenile crust, many of the Au-, Hg-, and Sb-rich veins that
develop in accretionary orogens do not form during reworking of older continental terranes that already have been highly
devolatilized. Also, given the single narrow suture zone in
such orogens, there is a narrow magmatic arc and thus a limited extent to the distribution of arc-related epithermal, porphyry, and skarn deposits. Continent-continent orogens may
be the end stages of accretionary orogens, where an external
ocean closes (Sengor and Natalin, 1996a), such as where the
Himalayan orogen has followed the Altaid orogen.
Therefore, mineral deposits that typify older accretionary
orogens are commonly preserved in the trapped juvenile
crust during subsequent collisional orogenesis (e.g., the central Asian deposits between the T ethysides blocks and Siberian craton). Podiform Cr and VMS deposits that formed in
oceanic arcs later become emplaced as ophiolite fragments
within obducted sheets during continent-continent collision.

(4) advection of fluid-undersaturated melts to shallow crustal


levels. According to Clark et al. (1990), the richest granite-related Sn-W deposits in the Andes reflect an arc-broadening
event, caused by a shift in subduction angle linked to changing convergence velocity . The secular distribution of Sn-W
provinces is similar to that of porphyry Cu deposits, including
preservation potential in eroding mountain belts (Fig. 5).
Metallogeny of Foreland Basins

U: Foreland-intracontinental basins
Thirty percent of the global U resource is sited in Proterozoic siliciclastic sequences, proximal to unconformities (Fig.
5; Ruzicka, 1996). Sedimentary basins evolved on all cratons
after supercontinent assembly at ~2.0 to 1.8 Ga (W indley,
1995), but preserved economic deposits of U have only been
found in foreland-intracratonic basins (Fig. 4B, D) in North
America, Australia, and western Africa. N ash et al. (1981)
suggest that the U geochemical cycle was widely established
from 2 Ga onward, with Proterozoic sedimentary accumulations setting the stage for 1.0 Ga metamorphic U provinces in
the Grenville and Damara orogens, as well as the sedimentary-hosted U provinces of western T exas and the Colorado
Plateau.
Granitoid Sn-W
The conjunction of two geodynamic events may have been
Magmatic deposits of Sn-W are associated with granites in
responsible for initiating large-scale near -surface U geocontinent-continenttype orogens, as well as some Cordilleran chemical cycles; i.e., transition from flat to steep subduction
and Andean orogens. Source magmas are the highly fractionat ~2.6 Ga, and decreased intensity of plume activity since 2.6
ated peraluminous granites of Ishiharas (1981) ilmenite series, Ga (except the 1.9 Ga superplume; Figs. 3A, 5). Archean slab
involving melting of reduced sedimentary facies and mantle
melt TTG possess Th/U ratios of 5.8 and lower U abundances
melts. These granites are enriched in the incompatible elethan younger intermediate to felsic arc magmas, where Th/U
ments Cs, Rb, Th, U, Nb, T a, Sn, W, Mo, and LREE, and the ratios average 3.7 (Drummond et al., 1996). Lower plume
volatile elements F and B (Sinclair, 1996). Intrusions and min- intensity increased the continental freeboard, permitting deeralization are constrained by structures imposed by regional
velopment of extensive continental siliciclastic sequences
tectonics (Clarke et al., 2000). Mineralization is triggered by
(Fig. 3B).
mixing of saline magmatic and low-salinity meteoric waters
The Athabasca basal unconformity developed on Archean
during regional uplift (Kontak and Clark, 2002).
cratons and in Paleoproterozoic metasedimentary rocks that
Large Sn-W metallogenic provinces developed in Paleozoic- include reductants such as Fe 2+ and graphite. The unconformity corresponds to a transition from intracontinental
Mesozoic continent-continent orogens. Prominent deposits
transtensional basins controlled by escape tectonics outboard
are Grey River and East Kemptville, Nova Scotia, in the Appalachian orogen; Xhuashan, China; the Erzgebirge and Mas- of the Trans-Hudson orogen, to a Laramide-type distal foresif Central, provinces at 325 to 300 and 290 to 260 Ma, and the land or perimeter basin (cf. Dickinson et al., 1988), to the
Trans-Hudson orogen. Collision of the Reindeer and Hearne
southwest England and Portugal (Panasqueira) province at
~290 Ma of the V ariscan orogen in Europe; and the Sinobur- terranes from 1810 to 1710 Ma generated topographic uplift
malaya terrane of the Permo-Triassic (300200 Ma) orogen of of ~10 km in the Trans-Hudson orogen. Four depositional sequences total 1,800 m of quartzose sandstones capped by 500
southeastern Asia (Pollard et al., 1995). Granites were generm of oolitic or stromatolitic dolomite, with three regional unated in overthickened crust following collision and emplaced
in a tensional regime, possibly after delamination of continen- conformities; these sequences developed in a fluvial to lacustrine environment with an aeolian input (Ramaekers and
tal lithospheric mantle and gravitational collapse of crust.
Catuneanu, 2004). Sedimentation commenced at 1830 Ma in
Prominent granitoid Sn-W provinces of inner arcs of Anthe Athabasca and correlative Thelon basin (Rainbird et al.,
dean orogens are Llallagua, Chojlla, and Chambillaya in the
2002), continuing intermittently to 950 Ma. Coeval cratonic
Tertiary of Bolivia, and San Rafael and Pasto Bueno of Peru.
Cordilleran-type orogenic Sn-W provinces include the Aber- sequences in Laurentia include the Hornby Bay Group, and
foyle and Ardlethan districts of the Tasman orogen, as well as Sioux, Baraboo, and Mazatzal sandstones (Ross, 2000).
Two meteoric water -dominated hydraulic systems develthe Regal Silver and Kalzas deposits in northwestern N orth
oped during extensional subsidence at ~1500 Ma. Isotopically
America (Sinclair, 1996).
evolved fluids at 180 to 240C advected through the baseThe conjunction of elements that lead to the formation of
ment, interacting with reductants, whereas formation brines
orogenic Sn-W granites are (1) siliciclastic sediments from a
dissolved U as aqueous U +6 within the Athabasca sequence.
weathered catchment deposited under the chemocline, (2)
input of mantle melts, (3) melting of overthickened crust, and Uranium was deposited where the two fluids mixed proximal
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1118

METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

to the unconformity , where it was transected by northeasttrending faults that parallel the structural grain of Trans-Hudson orogen accreted terranes (Kotzer and Kyser, 1993, 1995).
This event was coeval with assembly of the Colombia supercontinent. A second mineralization stage developed at ~1400
Ma, coeval with intracontinental rifting of Columbia; a third
stage at 1260 Ma was related to extension during the Mackenzie large igneous province event; and a fourth occurred
during diking in the Athabasca basin or possibly in response
to distal tectonic events, such as Nipigon rifting, the Racklan
orogen in the Y ukon, or the Grenville orogen (Kotzer et al.,
1992; Kyser et al., 2000; Ramaekers et al., 2005).
In Australia, the McArthur River foreland basin developed
during the 2.0 to 1.8 Ga Barramundi orogen. As much as 15
km of siliciclastic and carbonate sediments accumulated from
1800 to 1770 Ma in a marine to terrestrial environment with
intermittent volcanism. The principal unconformity-related
deposits are Jabiluka, Ranger , and N abarlek, in the Pine
Creek sub-basin of the McArthur River basin. Uraninite precipitated at 1640 Ma from saline (Na-Mg-Ca-Cl), diagenetic
fluids >100 m.y. after termination of sedimentation, as in the
Athabasca basin. A pronounced change in the apparent paleomagnetic wandering path throughout the McArthur River
basin at 1640 Ma corresponds to the timing of both sedimentary rock Pb-Zn-Ag and U mineralization (Idnurm et al.,
1995). Diagenetic fluids advected through the basin intermittently for >900 m.y . (Kyser et al., 2000, and references
therein; Polito et al., 2004).
There are several common factors in the evolution of the
Athabasca and McArthur basins and their U deposits, as well
as the 2 Ga Oklo U province, Gabon. These include (1) Paleoproterozoic orogens that sutured supercontinents, such as
Baltica, Laurentia, and East Antarctica into N ena (Fig. 8A;
Rogers, 1996; Rogers and Santosh, 2004); (2) reductants in
the basement; (3) foreland basins that promoted high hydraulic conductivity in sediments, (4) evaporites in some sequences that generated saline diagenetic brines; and (5) evolution to intracontinental basins underlain by some amount of
Archean continental lithospheric mantle, which accounts for
their preservation compared to geodynamically equivalent
Phanerozoic basins. Protracted fluid flow was tectonically
triggered and generated multiple stages of mineralization
>100 m.y. after sedimentation (Hoeve and Quirt, 1987; Ramaekers et al., 2005).
Rollfront sandstone-hosted deposits on most continents
represent ~30 percent of global U resources; they formed at
<100 Ma (Fig. 5B). Key factors in their formation are (1) development of extensive upland terrestrial forests at ~100 Ma;
(2) intermontane or intracratonic basins with fluvio-lacustrine
sediments characterized by the conjunction of large hydraulic
conductivities, with both oxidized and reduced facies; (3) tectonic uplift induced orographic rainfall; and (4) topographically driven fluid flow (Nash et al., 1981).

1119

see Cathles and Adams, 2005, for an alternative explanation


in terms of gas-driven flow). Unconformities developed at the
forebulge (Fig. 4D) tend to be favorable sites for discharge of
metalliferous fluids or mixing of fluid reservoirs.
The MVT deposits are restricted to compressional tectonic
events of Paleozoic and Cretaceous-T ertiary age. The economically most significant ores precipitated in the Devonian
to Permian assembly of Pangea, notably Appalachian orogenrelated deposits of the United States mid-continent. Y ounger
MVT deposits formed during the North American Cordilleran
orogen (Robb Lake, Canada) and the Africa-Eurasian Tethyan
orogen (Cracow-Silesian, Poland). Accumulation and preservation of platform sedimentary sequences that include carbonates are fundamental factors in the spatial and secular distribution of these huge base metal deposits.
Metallogeny of Intracontinental Rifts

Fe oxide-Cu-Au-Ag-REE
The Fe oxide-Cu-Au deposit class has a variety of metal
budgets, possibly reflecting a spectrum of crustal depths
(Hitzman et al., 1992; Davidson and Large, 1998; McMaster ,
1998; Porter, 2002; W illiams et al., 2005). Economically the
most important deposits in decreasing age include Carajas,
Brazil (2.57 Ga); Kiruna-Bergsdalen, Sweden (18901880
Ma); the Great Bear magmatic zone, Canada (18851865
Ma); the Cloncurry District of the Mt. Isa terrane (1.791.74
Ga) and Olympic Dam (1.59 Ga), Australia; and the St.
Francois district of Missouri (14501350 Ma). V ariants may
include Slipfontein, an Fe-Cu-Au-F deposit pipelike deposit,
hosted by a 2.06 Ga Bushveld granite; the 2.09 Ga Palabora
carbonatite ring complex, sited at the margin of the Kaapvaal
craton (Figs. 5, 8B); and Kiruna as an Fe-dominant end member (Pirajno, 2000; Groves and V ielreicher, 2001). The unifying characteristics are enrichment of Fe-P-F and alkali metasomatism of the host rocks (Pirajno, 2000; Groves et al.,
2005).
The Olympic Dam Cu-Au-Ag-REE deposit developed
within the 1.59 Ga Roxby Downs A-type granite. Lithospheric attenuation was focused at the eastern margin of the
Archean Gawler craton where the T orrens hinge zone developed at the transition to thinner post-Archean continental
lithospheric mantle. The Adelaide intracontinental rift basin
filled with a siliciclastic and volcaniclastic rock sequence,
most likely with evaporites. Basaltic magmas were generated
by decompressional melting of hot asthenosphere and/or a
mantle plume that advected into the base of thinned lithosphere. Basalts ponded at the Moho, fusing refractory , halogen-rich, lower crust, the residue of previous hydrous melt
extraction, to form anhydrous A-type granites emplaced at
shallow crustal levels (Campbell et al., 1998). T
wo fluids
mixed in the breccia: a cooler, oxidized, hypersaline formation
brine at hydrostatic pressure carrying Cu-Au-U-S, and a lithostatically pressured deeper Fe-F-Ba-CO 2-rich fluid likely
Carbonate-hosted Pb-Zn
evolved from A-type magmas (Haynes et al., 1995).
Deposits of the St. Francois Mountains are associated with
Carbonate-hosted MVT deposits of Pb-Zn are reviewed
Nd
by Leach et al. (2005a). These workers emphasize that oro- A-type felsic to intermediate anorgenic magmas. The
values of LREE-enriched mineralization in these deposits of
genic uplift is a key factor to create elevated recharge for
Proterozoic to Tertiary age span depleted mantle to enriched
topographically driven flow of formation fluids through
values in common with associated igneous rocks, indicating
sedimentary rock aquifers in foreland basin sequences (but
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KERRICH ET AL.

FIG. 8. A. Configuration of the Mesoproterozoic supercontinent Columbia of Zhao et al. (2004), illustrating the distribution of Paleo- to Mesoproterozoic SEDEX Pb-Zn deposits proximal to Archean or Paleoproterozoic margins. Recast from
Lydon (2000). B. Columbia, after Zhao et al. (2004), with 1.8 to 1.5 and 1.4 to 1.1 Ga belts of anorogenic magmatism from
Haapla and Rm (1999).

the mixing of basaltic with fused lower crustal reservoirs and


a magmatic source of REE (Gleason et al., 1999).
The interplay of geodynamic and geologic elements for
this deposit class are (1) attenuated continental lithosphere,
(2) basaltic liquids at the base of the crust and a rift sequence
near the surface, (3) translithospheric rift-related faults to
focus A-type magmas, (4) enhanced hydraulic conductivity at
shallow crustal levels by hydraulic fracturing, and (5) mixing
of two fluids with different redox states. The 1.8 to 1.1 Ga
age span for most of these deposits is related to the assembly
and dispersal of the supercontinent Columbia and then assembly of Rodinia (Fig. 5; Unrug, 1997). Their location near
attenuated continental lithospheric mantle may involve alka0361-0128/98/000/000-00 $6.00

line magmatism generated by decompressional melting of


metasomatized continental lithospheric mantle. Many Proterozoic sedimentary basins feature evaporites. Groves et al.
(2005) list possible Phanerozoic counterparts, such as Candelaria, with the caveat that these may have characteristics intermediate between the Proterozoic Cu-Au-REE-Fe deposits
and Au-rich porphyry systems.
Sedimentary rock-hosted Pb-Zn
The dominantly Proterozoic SEDEX mineralization occurred in intracontinental rifts that developed into passive
margins (Fig. 4), as reviewed by Leach et al. (2005b). Barley
and Groves (1992) related the secular distribution of these

1120

METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

deposits to the fragmentation stage of supercontinents. In the


reconstruction by Zhao et al. (2004) of the Mesoproterozoic
supercontinent Columbia, the giant Pb-Zn deposits of
Australia, Laurentia, and India are on intracontinental rifts
that presaged drift, proximal to the margins of Archean cratons or Paleoproterozoic terranes (Fig. 8A). The regionally
extensive, and protracted, history of diagenetic brine flow of
these Proterozoic siliciclastic basins, reflected both in unconformity U and SEDEX Pb-Zn deposits, results from the combination of basin development on relatively thick continental
lithospheric mantle with the thermal anomaly of the 1.4 Ga
superplume that dispersed Columbia. Sulfides precipitated
from basinal brines pumped by far -field forces, which were
active from synsedimentary times to ~200 m.y . after sedimentation, e.g., Sullivan and HYC, respectively (Idnurm et
al., 1995). Extensive passive margin sequences did not form
prior to the Paleoproterozoic given low freeboard (Fig. 3).
According to Large et al. (2001), younger intracontinental
rifts lack such deposits.

1121

mineralization predated the main stage of Lufilian orogenesis. Selley et al. (2005) similarly report an unpublished Re-Os
date of 816 62 Ma for stratiform sulfide deposition at the
Konkola deposit in Zambia, consistent with a diagenetic or
late-diagenetic timing for mineralization. Richards et al.
(1988a, b) also dated rutile and uraninite from late quartz
veins cutting the Ore Shale at Musoshi and obtained an age
of 514 Ma, indicating that these veins postdated the Lufilian
orogeny, and that they could, therefore, not have been responsible for original introduction of Cu into the Ore Shale.
Ore textures indicate a permeability control on metal distribution, reflected in the concentration of Cu sulfides within
more sandy laminae of the siltstone sequence, with finer
grained, less permeable laminae being almost devoid of sulfides except possibly syndepositional pyrite (Richards et al.,
1988b). Permeability in the sediments during introduction of
Cu implies an origin prior to regional metamorphism, perhaps during early diagenesis, because pore space would subsequently have been filled by diagenetic and then metamorphic minerals (Brown, 1978). An early diagenetic timing
Sedimentary rock-hosted Cu-Co deposits
would also coincide with advanced development of the rift
Copper sulfide and native Cu deposits, commonly with
basin, involving crustal thinning and increased mantle-dehigh Co concentrations and locally PGE (Kucha, 1982; Hitzrived heat flow . In contrast, Selley et al. (2005) propose a
man et al., 2005), occur as stratiform deposits in fine-grained model involving secondary permeability development during
clastic sedimentary rocks and silty dolomites within rift-reearly orogenic fluid flow.
lated sedimentary basins. The best known of these sedimentA common characteristic of sedimentary rock-hosted Cu
hosted Cu deposits occur in the Central African Copperbelt
deposits is that they are hosted by what were originally orof the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia (Selley ganic-rich black shales or dolomites, typically representing
et al., 2005) and the Kupferschiefer of central Europe. Isothe first marine transgression in previously subaerial clastic
lated large deposits include White Pine (Michigan), Redstone sedimentary basins (Oszczepalski, 1999). In some Cu-Co
(N orthwest T erritories, Canada), and Dzhezkazgan (Kazaprovinces, such as the Central African Copperbelt, the unkhstan). These deposits are of various, commonly imprecisely derlying clastic rock sequences are referred to as red beds, reconstrained, ages, ranging from N eoproterozoic (Central
flecting subaerial oxidation of relatively immature sandstones
African Copperbelt, Redstone, White Pine), through Car(commonly dune-bedded), arkoses, and conglomerates; evapboniferous (Dzhezkazgan), to Permian (Kupferschiefer) but
oritic horizons also occur locally (Jackson et al., 2003). Knifeshare a common tectonic setting in failed intracratonic rifts or sharp contacts between the Ore Shale and underlying conaulacogens (Fig. 5; Raybould, 1978).
glomerates attest to sudden flooding of the subaerial basin,
Many of these rifting events have been terminated by basin with a switch to deposition of fine-grained clastic sedimentary
inversion, resulting in deformation, metamorphism, and late
rocks with high organic content, followed by deeper marine
hydrothermal overprinting (e.g., Richards et al., 1988a, b).
carbonate deposits. A link is thus suggested between hydroThese effects have hampered interpretations of original met- carbon maturation, diagenetic flow of oxidized basinal brines
allogenic processes, to the extent that models ranging from
in the footwall sequences, and base metal sulfide deposition
synsedimentary deposition (Renfro, 1974; Garlick, 1981),
by reduction upon interaction between these brines and orthrough early diagenetic fluid flow (Bartholom et al., 1973), ganic-rich shales (Annels, 1979; Kelly and N ishioka, 1985;
to late epigenetic hydrothermal Cu introduction (Sales, 1962) Sverjensky, 1987; Jowett, 1992; Mauk and Hieshima, 1992).
have all been proposed over the last several decades (see reRed-bed formation has been suggested as a key precursor facviews by Gustafson and W illiams, 1981; Kirkham, 1989;
tor in this process, by causing the breakdown of primary siliSweeney et al., 1991; Selley et al., 2005).
cate and oxide minerals to render trace concentrations of base
In the case of the Central African Copperbelt, the timing of and other metals labile (Zielinski et al., 1983; Brown, 1984).
sedimentary and tectonic events is not well constrained.
These metals are then available for dissolution by later fluxes
However, it is clear that synsedimentary or diagenetic models of warm, oxidized basinal brines (Rose, 1976).
would require a pre-Lufilian orogeny age (pre-600550 Ma;
Expulsion of metalliferous brines from the deeper parts of
Porada and Berhorst, 2000), whereas an epigenetic model
sedimentary basins is recognized to be an essential part of the
would suggest an early or syn-Lufilian age, because the ores
ore-forming process, not only of sedimentary rock-hosted Cu
are clearly deformed by this orogenic event. Richards et al.
deposits but also of other sedimentary rock-hosted base metal
(1988a) obtained a two-stage Pb-Pb model age for least redeposits such as MVT and SEDEX Pb-Zn deposits (Cathles
crystallized Cu-Fe sulfides from the Musoshi deposit of 645 and Adams, 2005; Leach et al., 2005a). The different metal
15 Ma, which was interpreted either to reflect the timing of
inventory of these deposits, but otherwise similar environCu introduction into the Ore Shale, or isotopic disturbance of ments of formation within intracratonic sedimentary basins,
preexisting sulfides. Either explanation indicates that primary may reflect simply the dominant composition of sedimentary
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1122

KERRICH ET AL.

rocks. For example, Sverjensky (1989) has suggested that Pband Zn-rich deposits form where brines have flowed predominantly through sandstone and carbonate aquifers, respectively, whereas Cu-rich deposits form where aquifers contain
a significant amount of immature sediments, such as red-bed
arkoses. The high Co contents of some Central African Cu
deposits may reflect leaching from mafic materials, either
present as clastic components in the arkosic sediments or sills
deep within the sedimentary sequence (Annels and Simmonds, 1984).
The onset of basin inversion is commonly regarded as an important tectonic driving force for fluid flow , resulting in high
fluid pressures in deeper parts of the basin that force fluids to
escape by percolation through normally impermeable shale
horizons, thereby bringing oxidized metalliferous brines into direct contact with reductants in these shales (Cathles and Adams,
2005). Metal deposition as sulfides also requires a source of reduced sulfur, which may be generated by in situ reduction of
sulfate carried by the same brines (McGowan et al., 2003).
The formation of sedimentary rock-hosted Cu deposits, like
other sedimentary basin-hosted base metal deposits, may thus
be seen as part of the larger supercontinent cycle, forming
during the early stages of rifting (Raybould, 1978; Barley and
Groves, 1992; Titley, 1993). Successful rifting will generate a
new ocean basin, with the original rift sediments forming part
of a passive margin sequence. However , such sequences are
either currently submarine, or have been caught up in and
potentially destroyed by later collisional events, and are
therefore either inaccessible to, or of low potential for, exploration. In contrast, failed rifts have high preservation potential within stable continental interiors and are thus the most
prospective regions for discovery of economic deposits.
Passive Margins
Phosphorites
Most sedimentary phosphate deposits accumulated on the
continental shelves of the western margins of continents and
in passive margin marine settings, within 45 of paleoequators. Deposition occurred in zones of high bioproductivity
from upwelling of cold polar currents moving toward the
equator in oceanic gyres. Ocean basins ~3,000 km wide are
required for gyres, implying deposition of phosphate 15 to 20
m.y. after rifting. Deposits may also form on east-facing passive margins, such as in the Miocene basin of Florida (Fig.
4C; Chandler and Christie, 1996).
Significant phosphorite units were deposited as the first extensive passive margins developed during dispersal of the supercontinent Kenorland at ~2.4 to 2.2 Ga (Fig. 5). Examples
are units in the 1.95 to 1.85 Ga Animikie Group in Minnesota
and in the 2.0 Ga Trans-Amazonian Central Guiana belt, Suriname. Major phosphate accumulations became widespread
on passive margins (e.g., Russian platform) following breakup
of the supercontinent Rodinia at ~600 to 500 Ma, which
marked the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian boundary. The largest
deposit is the Permian (300251 Ma) Posphoria Formation,
Montana and Idaho, deposited on the western margin of late
Paleozoic Pangea in an epicratonic sea. These deposits are associated with global sea-level high stands linked to maxima of
plume or ocean-ridge activity. Phosphates also occur on ocean
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plateaus and islands (W indley, 1995; Chandler and Christie,


1996; Follmi, 1996; Ilyin, 1998).
Placer Ti-Zr-Hf
Economically the most significant placer deposits of titanium minerals (Garnett and Bassett, 2005) and zircon, in terranes associated with gemstones, are those of eastern and
Western Australia, South Africa, southwestern India, and the
southeastern United States. An economic example is the <5
Ma beach sands of the Swan Coastal Plain, Western Australia.
This plain is bounded to the east by the Darling fault scarp,
linked to the dispersal of Pangea at ~230 Ma. Zircon age populations in the beach sands and Cretaceous siliciclastic rocks
of the Perth basin are both 1.3 to 1.1 Ga and 600 to 500 Ma.
The catchment is thought to be Pan-African terranes, such as
those of the Albany-Fraser or Pinjarra orogens, involved in
welding the Australian, Antarctic, and Indian continents into
Pangea. Those orogens are interpreted to have been formerly
located to the west, possibly partially in India prior to subduction under Asia. T itanium minerals and zircon were concentrated during recycling of the Cretaceous sedimentary
rocks (Freeman and Donaldson, 2004, and references
therein). Tertiary equivalents are present on the western passive margin of South Africa, which are sourced in the Mesoproterozoic Namaqua province (Macdonald et al., 1997).
Sedimentary rock-hosted Pb-Zn
Neoproterozoic-Phanerozoic sedimentary rock-hosted PbZn deposits, in contrast to older Proterozoic examples, are restricted to Atlantic-type passive margins (Leach et al., 2005a,
b). An essential factor in evolving ore-forming brines is the
presence of sabka sediments within carbonate platforms, as
has been suggested for the Red Dog deposit, Alaska. Most
SEDEX deposits formed within 30
of the paleoequator
(Leach et al., 2004, 2005a, b).
Metallogeny of Anorogenic Magmatic Belts
Rapakivi Sn
More than 70 percent of Proterozoic anorogenic magmatism occurs in a 5,000-km-long belt, which is 1,000 km wide,
extending from southern California through Labrador to the
Svecofennides. W indley (1995) recognized six stages in the
assembly and dispersal of the Mesoproterozoic supercontinent Columbia and subsequent formation of the Grenville
orogen: (1) accretion of arc terranes of the Y avapai, Central
Plains, Penokean, and Svecofennide provinces from 1.9 to 1.8
Ga; (2) minimum melts of hydrated and accreted terranes to
generate 1.85 to 1.81 Ga granites; (3) melting of overthickened lower crust that yielded vapor-poor nonminimum melts,
such as the 1.8 Ga Svecofennian granites, and lamprophyres
from enriched domains of mantle wedge; (4) delamination of
overthickened continental lithospheric mantle replaced by
hot asthenosphere, which generated 1.75 to 1.55 Ga anorogenic Rapakivi granites from lower crust and gabbros from asthenosphere melts; (5) plume activity that thinned and fragmented the supercontinent at ~1.3 Ga, with basaltic liquids
ponding at the Moho density filter, fractionating to anorthositegabbro complexes; and (6) the Grenville ocean opened and
closed in an Alpine-Himalayan-type orogen, leaving remnants

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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

of anorogenic Rapakivi granites and anorthosites (Fig. 8B;


Windley, 1995, figs. 15.2, 15.3; Karlstrom et al., 2001).
Rapakivi granites are anorogenic A-type granites, a member of bimodal gabbro-anorthosite and granitoid complexes
(Frost et al., 2002). Most Rapakivi provinces formed from 1.6
to 1.0 Ga, with a tectonic setting of a mantle plume impinging on thinned, incipiently rifted continental lithosphere or
upwelling of asthenosphere following extensional collapse, as
in the Basin and Range province. Rapakivi granites are melts
of residual lower crust and are relatively anhydrous and reduced; accordingly, they crystallized at shallow crustal levels.
Tin deposits with Be, W, Zn, and Cu are present in late-stage
differentiates of 1.7 to 1.5 Ga Rapakivi granite complexes of
Fennoscandia, Missouri, and Brazil (Haapala and Rm,
1999; Pirajno, 2005).
Anorthosite Fe-Ti-V
Dominantly Mesoproterozoic in age, these deposits are
within layered or massive anorthosite-gabbro complexes (Fig.
5). Plume-related basalts ponded at the Moho density filter
where there was extensive fractional crystallization of plagioclase. Associated magmas are jotunites and monzonorites that
are rich in Fe, T i, V, and P; apatite suppresses crystallization
of magnetite, resulting in immiscible Fe-rich evolved liquids.
Orebodies are cumulus layers or discordant bodies of Fe and
Ti oxides, the latter crystallizing from immiscible liquids.
Prominent examples are Kiglapait, Canada; SmaalandsTaberg, Sweden; and Kachkanar-Kusinskoye, Russia (Gross and
Scoates, 1996). In the southern hemisphere, a 300-km-long belt
between Angola and Namibia includes the 2.0 Ga Kunene Intrusive Complex with an Fe-Ti-V province (Pirajno et al., 2004).
The narrow secular duration for massif anorthosites and
their associated Fe-T i-V accumulations is readily accounted
for by plume-continental lithospheric mantle interactions.
Plumes impinging on thick Archean continental lithospheric
mantle did not undergo decompressional melting. After the
1.9 Ga superplume event, mantle plume activity waned but
was sufficiently hot during dispersal of the Mesoproterozoic
supercontinent to evolve large quantities of basalts under extended post-Archean continental lithospheric mantle. Shear wave splitting is greatest at the margins of Archean continental lithospheric mantle, and
Vp and Vp/Vs ratios of the
Grenville are consistent with 20-km-thick, plagioclase-rich
lower crust (Musachio and Mooney, 2002; Sleep et al., 2002).
Plume-Continental Lithosphere Interaction
Magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE and stratiform chromite
Three types of Ni-Cu sulfide and PGE deposits are recognized (Arndt et al., 2005; Barnes and Lightfoot, 2005;
Cawthorne et al., 2005): (1) Ni-Cu sulfide accumulations as
part of ultramafic-mafic intrusive complexes and continental
flood basalts (CFB) within intracontinental rifts, with Ni/Cu
ratios <1; (2) komatiite-hosted deposits with N i/Cu ratios
generally >10; and (3) tholeiitic intrusions in greenstone
terranes or along translithospheric faults characterized by
Ni/Cu ratios of 2 to 3 (Naldrett, 1989; Eckstrand, 1996). All
three reflect plume-lithosphere interaction (Fig. 2B).
The Stillwater Complex, Montana, with chromite and NiCu sulfide domains, is an intrusive expression of the 2.7 Ga
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1123

global superplume event (Fig. 3A; Isley and Abbott, 1999; Pirajno, 2000). The Great Dyke, emplaced at 2050 Ma, represents extension in the Zimbabwe craton, following amalgamation of the Kaapvaal and Zimbabwe cratons. The 2060 to 2050
Ma Bushveld Intrusive Complex was emplaced proximal to
the Murchison-Thabuzimbi lineament that also controlled
the architecture of the intracratonic T ransvaal sedimentary
basin. These African cratons were possibly adjacent to the
Antarctic and Pilbara cratons at ~2.5 to 2.2 Ga (Pirajno,
2000). The intrusive complexes are likely an early stage of the
1.9 Ga superplume (Fig. 3A). In the Great Dyke and
Bushveld Intrusive Complex, oxide ores of Cr , Ti, Fe, and V
and sulfide ores of Ni, Cu, Co, and PGE were associated with
ultramafic liquids possessing high Mg number but low incompatible element abundances (Pirajno, 2000, 2005). Given
the constraint on depth of plume decompressional melting
imposed by the thick continental lithospheric mantle,
Archean intrusive complexes such as the Bushveld may either
reflect lateral flow of plume melts into the craton or , alternatively, hotter Archean plumes melted at greater depths (Xie et
al., 1993).
Critical factors for transition metal ores in ultramafic to
mafic magmatic bodies are an increase of SiO 2 content to induce S saturation and open-system conditions. Increase of
SiO2 content of the parental liquid occurs either by assimilation of crustal rocks or by mixing with noritic melts (Fig. 2B).
In an open system, sulfides equilibrate with successive pulses
of melts or by mixing of melts. Many Archean and Proterozoic
mafic-ultramafic intrusive complexes have vast quantities of
norites. N orites are not evolved, or crustally contaminated,
tholeiitic basalts. Intriguingly , these intracontinental norites
feature incompatible element enrichment in conjunction
with depletions of N b-T a, the characteristics of convergent
margin mafic magmas (Hall and Hughes, 1990; Pearce and
Peate, 1995). Some intrusive complexes have units with Ushaped REE patterns compositionally akin to Phanerozoic
boninites and recent boninites of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc
(Stern et al., 1991; T aylor et al., 1994). Shallower mantle
lithosphere of Archean terranes acquired a subduction zone
signature in subcreted normal oceanic and ocean plateau
lithosphere during accretionary assembly of the terranes into
cratons. Subsequently , the deep residue of plume melting
coupled buoyantly to form the deeper continental lithospheric mantle (W yman et al., 2002; Schmitz et al., 2004),
which later remelted at shallower depths by decompression
during extension and/or plume impingement. This generated
intracratonic norites with a subduction signature and allowed
mixing of plume material with high Si norite liquids in layered
complexes (Fig. 2B).
Other well-documented examples of magmatic N i-, Cu-,
and Co-bearing sulfide deposits stemming from plume impingement on incipiently rifted lithosphere are discussed
below. In the circum-Superior craton belt, Ni sulfide deposits
in Manitoba occur at the cratonic margin, in ~1.8 Ga sills
compositionally evolved from dunite to pyroxenite, which are
an expression of the ~1.9 Ga superplume event (Fig. 3A;
Condie et al., 2001). The 1850 Ma Sudbury igneous complex
is located at the boundary between the Archean Superior craton and Proterozoic Southern province. Large volumes of
norite are present, hosting Cu-, Ni-, and Co-bearing sulfides

1123

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KERRICH ET AL.

with significant PGE. Crustal melting was induced by a meteorite inpact (Barnes and Lightfoot, 2005), so this igneous
complex is an exception to the association of magmatic Ni-Cu
sulfide ores with mantle plumes. In the Neoproterozoic, NiCu sulfide deposits occur in (1) the 1.1 Ga Duluth complex of
the mid-continent rift associated with the Keweenawan large
igneous province; (2) the 1.1 Ga Coppermine large igneous
province of the N orthwest T erritories, with the Muskox intrusive complex; and (3) the Jinchuan deposit, China, which
occurs in ultramafic bodies that intruded translithospheric
faults at the southwestern margin of the North China craton.
Deposits of the Insizwa complex, South Africa, are associated
with the Karoo large igneous province and formed at 200 to
180 Ma; impingement of the ancestral Iceland plume on Laurentia-Baltica induced their rifting, as part of the T
ertiary
North Atlantic large igneous province. In Greenland, the 55
Ma Skaergaard intrusion, hosting PGE-Au deposits, is a relict
of that plume-lithosphere interaction (Fig. 3A; Saunders et
al., 1997; Pirajno, 2000).
Magmatic Ni-Cu-Co-PGE deposits in the Norilsk-Talnakh
metallogenic province have clearcut expressions of the coupled geodynamic and magmatic elements that are associated
with this deposit type. The province is sited at the edge of the
Siberian craton, where the transition from thick (Archean) to
thinner continental lithospheric mantle guided the location of
the regional, translithospheric Kharayelakh fault. Incipient
rifting created intracontinental basins between the Siberian,
eastern European, and T aimyr cratons. Impingement of a
plume at 250 Ma near the failed triple junction led to extensive decompressional melting under thin continental lithospheric mantle, and plume magmas erupted onto a Devonian
epicontinental sedimentary sequence generating 3.5-kmthick continental flood basalts. Tholeiitic basalts are prevalent, with minor alkali basalts and picrites indicating melting
in an anomalously hot plume tail. Assimilation of low S continental crust led to increase of SiO 2 content and S saturation
of basaltic melts, with gravitational accumulation of magmatic
sulfides that partitioned N i-Cu-PGE from multiple pulses
through open-system magma conduits. More than 12 Gt of S
entered the system from stoping of sulfate-rich evaporites,
but only ~1 percent of this S entered the orebody (Naldrett,
1989; Lightfoot and Hawkesworth, 1997).
The largest komatiite-hosted Ni-Cu deposits are in the 2.7
Ga N orseman-W iluna belt, Y ilgarn craton. Komatiite flows
erupted in a deep marine environment over sulfidic sediments deposited in a ~200-km-wide intracontinental rift. Sulfur saturation of the ultramafic liquids may stem from assimilation of the sediments (Lesher and Keays, 2002). Similar
deposits are present in the 2.7 Ga Abitibi belt and
Neoarchean greenstone terranes of Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Paleoproterozoic equivalents formed in greenstone terranes
of Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec (Ungava, Raglan), Finland
(Hitura), Russia (Pechenga), and Tanzania (Kabanga). A common geodynamic element for these deposits is eruption of
high-temperature, S-undersaturated ultramafic melts through
continental (N oresman-W iluna) or dominantly oceanic
(Abitibi) crust (N aldrett, 1989; Eckstrand, 1996; Cassidy et
al., 2002; Lesher and Keays, 2002).
Tholeitic intrusion-hosted cumulus Ni-Cu sulfide deposits
occur dominantly in Archean greenstone terranes, with fewer
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in Paleoproterozoic counterparts of Finland and Russia (Naldrett, 1989; Ekstrand, 1996). Their common secular distribution with komatiite-hosted deposits is consistent with plume
magmas advecting into an arc, back-arc, or sub-continental
flood basalt setting.
Magmatic Ni-Cu-Co sulfide deposits at V oiseys Bay, Newfoundland, are sited on the 1.8 Ga translithospheric suture
between the Archean N ain and Paleoproterozoic Churchill
provinces. Troctolite magmas, likely part of the 1350 to 1290
Ma anorogenic Nain Plutonic Complex, intruded the suture
at 1.3 Ga, coeval with dispersal of the supercontinent Columbia, triggered by a mantle plume. Interaction with graphitebearing paragneisses of the host terrane by assimilation and
fractional crystallization added Si, K, Na, and S to the troctolites, triggering S saturation and segregation of immiscible
sulfide liquids (Eckstrand, 1996; Naldrett and Ripley , 2001).
In summary, magmatic Ni deposits have the same secular distribution as mantle plumes.
Economic stratiform chromite deposits are all Archean or
Paleoproterozoic in age. The largest deposits are Selukwe, in
the 3420 Ma Sebakwian sequence of the Zimbabwe craton;
Kemi in Finland (2444 Ma); and Campo Formoso in Brazil
(2000 Ma). All involve plumes interacting with Archean continental lithospheric mantle (Fig. 2B; Duke, 1996b). Stratiform chromite in the Neoarchean Bird River Sill, Manitoba,
and Big Trout Lake intrusion, Ontario, appear to be the result
of plume-related intrusions emplaced into Archean greenstone terranes (Duke, 1966b). Crystallization of chromite was
triggered by mixing of a high Mg primitive melt with SiO 2rich norites, raising the Si activity in the former .
Diamonds
Diamonds form by reaction of asthenospheric carbonatitic
liquids with peridotite (p-type) and eclogite (e-type) of deep,
mostly Archean, continental lithospheric mantle (Gurney et
al., 2005). Accordingly , ages of inclusions in diamonds span
3.3 Ga to Mesoproterozoic (Fig. 2B; Kirkley et al., 1991). Carbon is introduced into the continental lithospheric mantle
both from deep asthenospheric fluids and from subducted
ocean crust, in keeping with independent evidence for residence of subducted material in Archean continental lithospheric mantle (Cartigny, 2005). Diamonds are transported as
xenocrysts from the continental lithospheric mantle to shallow crustal levels in kimberlites or lamproites, both incompatible element-enriched and volatile-rich ultramafic magmas (Mitchell, 1995; Dawson, 1999). Kimberlitic melts are
generated in the upper mantle, some at depths of 450 to 670
km as indicated by inclusions of beta majorite garnet, but may
also form below the 670-km D' transition zone. In southern
Africa, continental lithospheric mantle with slower P-wave
velocity correlates with a greater proportion of eclogitic silicate inclusions in diamonds, younger Sm-Nd ages of the inclusions, more depleted 13C, and fewer diamonds characterized by low N contents. Converse properties characterize
high P-wave domains of continental lithospheric mantle
(Shirey et al., 2004). Whereas mantle plumes do not undergo
decompressional melting at ~300 km beneath Archean continental lithospheric mantle, volatile-rich kimberlites possess
the buoyancy flux to penetrate this mantle along preexisting
structures (Fig. 2B).

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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

1125

associated with graywackes. Similar BIF occur in a 650 Ma


arc terrane of the Pan African orogen and in the Ordovician
Bathurst district (Windley, 1995; Peter, 2003). From the geochemistry of first-cycle volcanogenic turbidites in the 2.7 Ga
Abitibi greenstone terrane, BIF were precipitated in positions distal from bimodal intraoceanic arcs or in back arcs, as
well as distal from ocean plateaus (Feng et al., 1993). On four
of the Gondwana continents there is a peak of areally extensive BIF at 2.5 to 2.4 Ga. These BIF unconformably overly
the Archean Karnataka, Amazon, T ransvaal, and Pilbara cratons. The Hammersly and Transvaal BIF may have been contiguous in a superbasin termed V aalbara (Fig. 9; Cheney ,
1996). Associated rocks are mafic volcanics and black shales.
An equivalent, the 2.3 Ga Kursk district, is present on the
margin of the Siberian craton (T rendal and Blockley , 2004).
Molecular fossils in Hammersly BIF confer evidence for photosynthetic cyanobacteria, and concentrations of P, V, Co, Zn,
and Mo in these BIF are consistent with precipitation by Fe2+
oxidizing bacteria, as also characterizes present-day Fe-rich
aqueous environments (Brocks et al., 1999; Kornhauser et al.,
Iron formations
2002). Shales of the T ransvaal Supergroup are cratonic
Arguably the most significant insight into the fundamental
(Wronkiewicz and Condie, 1990), and the areal extent of Paprocess for iron formations comes from the work of Isley and leoproterozoic BIF on the Gondwana continent is consistent
Abbott (1999), reviewed by Clout and Simonson (2005). They with stable continental shelves above Archean continental
lithospheric mantle.
demonstrated that from 3.8 to 1.9 Ga, iron formations and
Granular iron formations (GIF) accumulated on circumocean plateaus that were erupted from mantle plumes have a
Superior province continental shelves in the Lake Superior
common time series (Fig. 9; see also Clout and Simonson,
2005). Reduced hydrothermal fluids enriched in Fe 2+ and Si, and Labrador regions, and in the Earaheedy basin on the
from convection through submarine basaltic lavas, were
northern margin of the Y ilgarn craton, at ~1.9 to 1.8 Ga (Pitransported by ocean circulation to shallower basins where Fe rajno, 2005). These GIF are commonly associated with epiprecipitated in near -surface waters. Fryer et al. (1979) pioclastic sedimentary rocks and tuffs; they are interpreted as reneered the concept of large volcanic-related hydrothermal
working of Fe oxide particles in a shallow-water , high-energy
fluxes into Archean oceans, specifically to maintain an
environment (Simonson, 2003; T rendall and Blockly , 2004).
Archean CO 2 greenhouse. Simonson and Hassler (1996) arThe areal extent of GIF stems from stable continental shelves
gued for deposition of Archean banded iron formation (BIF) on, or proximal to, Archean continental lithospheric mantle.
below the wave base in deep water during global sea-level
Distinctive iron formations, termed Rapitan, were dehigh stands, in keeping with decreased continental freeboard posited from ~800 to 700 Ma. The principal accumulations
associated with oceanic plateaus (Fig. 3).
are Rapitan in the Y ukon, Urucum in Brazil, and in the
Isley and Abbott s (1999) insight explains the scarcity of
Damara belt, N amibia (Fig. 9C). These iron formations are
iron formations younger than 1.8 Ga (Fig. 9). Accordingly , associated with, but more restricted than, N eoproterozoic
these deposits not only span the putative great oxygenation
glacial deposits and include dropstones. Evidence for rift-reevent at ~2.2 Ga and, therefore, are not proxies for the oxida- lated mafic magmatism that generated Fe-rich hydrothermal
tion state of Earth s atmosphere-hydrosphere system but re- plumes is present in the stratigraphic sequences (Y eo, 1986;
3+
quire oxygenated waters to precipitate Fe
(Ohmoto, Young, 1988; Trompette et al., 1998). A possible analogue is
2004a,b). Corroborative evidence for this depositional
Fe-rich hydrothermal sediments in the Red Sea, where riftscheme of reduced source fluids and oxygenated surface ma- ing is caused by the African superswell and related plumes.
rine waters comes from 2.9 Ga BIF in India, which are char- Iron formations are also associated with the ~250 Ma and
acterized by positive Eu but negative Ce anomalies. The for- Cretaceous superplumes (Fig. 9; Oyarzun et al., 2003).
2+
mer is indicated by the solubility of Eu
in reduced
The combination of factors necessary for iron formations
hydrothermal fluids, whereas the latter is consistent with seare (1) mantle plumes; (2) tectonic stability for timescales of
questration of Ce 3+ from marine water by Fe 3+ and Mn 4+ ox- >1 m.y.; (3) hiatus of proximal volcanic activity over comparaides and oxyhydroxides (Kato et al., 2002). N ot all Precamble timescales; (4) basin architecture that promoted open exbrian iron formations have such clear Eu and Ce anomalies.
change with deep marine bottom waters; and (5) sufficient
Trendall and Blockley (2004) reject the conventional classi- water depth to limit the input of epiclastic sediments, GIF exfication of iron formations into Algoman and Superior types.
cepted (Isley and Abbott, 1999; Trendall and Blockly, 2004).
They identify four main associations. The first is older BIF in
Synthesis
volcanic basins of Archean greenstone terranes of the Slave,
Superior, Baltic, Ukraine (Krivoi Rog BIF), Dharwar , AmaPlume intensity was relatively greater in the Archean and
zon, Yilgarn, Kaapvaal, and West African cratons. Microbands erupted hotter melts, but some type of plate tectonics was
are interpreted as chemical and seasonal varves, and BIF are also operating. Archean cratons formed where ocean plateaus
Three of seven known major kimberlite events are associated with superplumes: (1) ~480 Ma in Russia, China,
Canada, South Africa, and Zimbabwe; (2) ~280 Ma in Laurentia-Baltica; and (3) ~120 to 80 Ma in N orth America,
India, Siberia, Brazil, and Africa, linked to the Pacific Cretaceous superplume and associated dispersal of Gondwana
(Figs. 3A, 5). Jelsma et al. (2004) identified four lineament
trends in southern Africa, along which many kimberlites
occur, that they attributed to lithospheric structures formed
during breakup of Gondwana. Oceanic lithosphere, stored at
670-km depth, may avalanche to the core-mantle boundary ,
ejecting superplumes that in turn cause dispersal of supercontinents (Condie, 2002). Kimberlite events not known to
be associated with plumes occurred at 1 Ga, 410 to 370 Ma,
200 Ma, and 50 Ma (Condie, 2001). Geodynamic settings of
kimberlites are reviewed by Helmstaedt (1993); plumelithosphere interaction is prevalent, but continental rifts and
transform faults are also significant for localizing kimberlite
emplacement in the crust.

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FIG. 9. (A). Secular distribution of mantle plumes, after Isley and Abbott (1999). (B). Iron formations after T rendall and
Blockley (2004). Rapitan (C), Algoman (D), and VMS (E) after Ohmoto (2004a). (F). V olume of ocean crust from Condie
(1997).

that had been erupted from plumes became jammed against


convergent margins and the buoyant refractory residue of hot
plume melting coupled with imbricated arc-plateau crust.
This refractory residue constitutes the deep continental
lithosphere mantle keel that defines Archean cratons and is
responsible for preservation of Archean continental crust and
its deposits. Magmatic N i deposits are associated with komatiites and basalts erupted from mantle plumes; VMS deposits formed in intraoceanic arcs; and orogenic gold deposits
are prevalent in the N eoarchean (Fig. 10), linked to
Cordilleran-type orogens that welded cratons into the first supercontinent, Kenorland, at ~2.7 Ga.
The Proterozoic is characterized by a distinctive set of mineral deposits. At deeper crustal levels, magmatic N i-Cu deposits formed in layered complexes where high Mg melts from
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mantle plumes intruded translithospheric structures guided by


the transition from thicker Archean to thinner Proterozoic continental lithospheric mantle. At shallower depths, Fe oxide CuAu-REE deposits are also controlled by structures marginal to
Archean continental lithospheric mantle. As plume intensity
waned, the continental freeboard increased, and phosphorites,
carbonates, and Fe and Mn formations precipitated on the first
extensive passive margins as Kenorland dispersed. The first U
accumulations were in foreland basins to orogens that welded
Columbia; the first Pb-Zn deposits in intracontinental rifts accompanied the dispersal of Columbia; and anorthosite-associated Fe-Ti-V and Rapakivi Sn deposits occur in the vast belts of
Proterozoic anorogenic magmatism that fundamentally reflect
plume-lithosphere interactions. Several features are evident in
Figure 10: The sparsity of deposits that form in topographically

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METALLOGENIC PROVINCES IN AN EVOLVING GEODYNAMIC FRAMEWORK

FIG. 10. Secular variation of specified classes of mineral deposits according to geodynamic setting. Peak height on the yaxis is scaled according to relative size of the metallogenic provinces. A. AM = anorogenic magmatism; CA = continental arc;
CC = continent-continent orogen; CO = Cordilleran orogen; CR = continental rift; IA = intraoceanic arc; PL = plume-lithosphere. Porphyry-epithermal and VMS deposits form in both intraoceanic and continental arcs, but for simplicity of illustration the former are plotted on the continental arc track. Similarly, magmatic Sn deposits occur in both Cordilleran and
continent-contenent orogens, but are illustrated only on the latter. B. Sedimentary basins. BA = back arc; FA = fore arc; FL
= foreland; IC = intracontinental; O = oceanic; PM = passive margin; RM = rifted continental margin; SS = strike slip. Placer
gold deposits accumulate in the fore arcs and back arcs of orogenic belts, but for simplicity of illustration are plotted in fore
arcs. Sources: Meyer (1988), Goldfarb et al. (2001) for orogenic Au, Groves et al. (2005) for Fe oxide-Cu-Au-REE.
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elevated tectonic belts, such as magmatic Sn and porphyry-epithermal deposits, in the Archean; the sparsity of several deposit
types over the interval from ~1.8 to ~0.8 Ga; the onset of several classes of sedimentary rock-hosted deposits with the first
stable passive margins and increased freeboard; prevalence of
Fe-Ti-V deposits in belts of Proterozoic anorogenic magmatism;
and the low prospectivity of intracontinental settings.
In terms of preservation, the sparsity of many deposit types
from ~900 to 500 Ma may have resulted from a secular decrease in thickness and buoyancy of the continental lithospheric mantle, coupled with Grenvillian orogens having deep
levels of erosion due to delamination of continental lithospheric mantle. The secular distribution of ore deposits in the
Phanerozoic (Fig. 10) reflects enhanced preservation, especially of deposits in topographically elevated ranges, notwithstanding thinner continental lithospheric mantle.
Four potential future directions for research may provide
useful insights for exploration. At the scale of cratons, better
seismic imaging of continental lithospheric mantle topography
may assist in the exploration for magmatic Ni-Cu and Fe oxide
Cu-Au-REE deposits. Refined reconstructions of the supercontinent cycle allow projections of metallogenic provinces
(Fig. 8). At the scale of terranes, investigations on the conjunction of thermal, structural, and lithological factors will help to
determine the distinction between a metallogenic province
versus regions of subdued mineralization. At the scale of a
province, efforts to systematize Damkohler (N d D) numbers
(Johnson and DePaolo, 1994) will help to determine why large
or small deposits of a given type may form from the same oreforming fluids but with subtleties of geochemistry that may indicate size; e.g., large deposits may have high Nd signatures.
Acknowledgments
We are grateful to Bruce Eglington, Franco Pirajno, Paul
Ramaekers, Vlad Sopuk and Derek W yman for reviewing
some, or all, sections of an intial draft of this manuscript. The
section on geodynamics draws on a document written by Ali
Polat and RK for an unpublished report to the Canadian Association of Mining Industry Research Organization
(CAMIRO). Economic Geology One Hundredth Anniversary
Volume reviewers, Dallas Abbott and David Groves, conferred
insights and identified errors that resulted in substantial improvement to the final version. Glen Caldwell, Kevin Cassidy ,
Bruce Eglington, and Mike Lesher guided RK to information
where background was lacking. Karen McMullan and Ignacio
Gonzales are thanked for assistance with the text, and Ryan
Schmidt, June McLintock, and Tim Wardell for generating the
figures. RK acknowledges the George McLeod endowment to
the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of
Sasktchewan, and JPR and RK acknowledge support of Discovery Grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. We appreciate the invitation by Jeff
Hedenquist to write this article.
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