Chemical Geology

Volume 608, 5 October 2022, 121027
Chemical Geology

Fluid origin and critical ore-forming processes for the giant gold mineralization in the Jiaodong Peninsula, China: Constraints from in situ elemental and oxygen isotopic compositions of quartz and LA–ICP–MS analysis of fluid inclusions

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The Jiaodong Peninsula, China, is one of the largest gold provinces in the world. During a short time interval in the Early Cretaceous, over 5000 t of gold were accumulated there. The mechanisms controlling the focused Au deposition and the origins of massive amounts of auriferous fluids are still controversial. Quartz–sulfide lode mineralization (Linglong-type) and disseminated/stockwork mineralization (Jiaojia-type) are the two major mineralization styles in the Jiaodong Peninsula. Herein, we conducted in situ textural, elemental and oxygen isotopic analyses using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA–ICP–MS) and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) on quartz from different hydrothermal stages and depths for three representative Linglong-type (Linglong deposit) and Jiaojia-type (Xiadian and Jiangjiayao deposits) gold deposits in the northwestern Jiaodong Peninsula, with the aim to constrain the ore-forming processes. The LA–ICP–MS analysis of individual fluid inclusions was also conducted to unravel the origin of the auriferous fluids. The results show that from the pre-mineralization to the ore-forming stages in the Linglong-type mineralization, the homogenization temperatures and salinities of fluid inclusions and the δ18Oquartz values change slightly, but the Al concentrations of quartz decrease continuously. Combined with the coexistence of CO2- and H2O-rich fluid inclusion endmembers, these trends indicate the increase of pH induced by CO2 degassing (fluid–fluid unmixing), which led to focused Au deposition. The quartz grains from the Jiaojia-type mineralization typically show a homogeneous texture with well-correlated lithophile elements (e.g., K, Al and Rb), which are distinct from those of the Linglong-type that are characterized by oscillatory zoning with much higher Al concentrations and δ18Oquartz values. These phenomena indicate that enhanced fluid–rock interaction occurred in the Jiaojia-type mineralization. In addition, the δ18Oquartz values show an increase from deep to shallow depths. In combination with thermodynamic modelling, it suggests decreasing fluid–rock interaction with decreasing depth. The above results corroborate that multiple mechanisms led to the efficient Au deposition in the Jiaodong Peninsula. Fluid–fluid unmixing typically occurred in the Linglong-type mineralization, while fluid–rock interaction was dominant in the Jiaojia-type mineralization. The different mechanisms might render mining challenging due to the changeable locations of favorable Au unloading.

The LA–ICP–MS results of fluid inclusions suggest that the ore-forming fluids are metamorphic fluids rather than magmatic–hydrothermal fluids. In combination with the isotopic compositions of ores showing considerable mantle affinities and large-scale mafic underplating occurring beneath the study region, we propose a new genetic model that accounts for the origin of the auriferous fluids. The new model invokes the devolatilization of previously emplaced H2O- and Au-rich amphibole cumulates through amphibolite- to granulite-facies metamorphism in the middle–lower crust. It suggests an alternative way to generate the ‘orogenic-like’ gold deposits.


Trace element
Oxygen isotope
Fluid inclusion
Gold deposit

Data availability

Data will be made available on request.

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