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C.J.R. Hart1 and R.J. Goldfarb2
Yukon Geological Survey, Box 2703 (K-10), Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2C6 Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org United States Geological Survey, Box 25046 (MS73) Denver, Colorado USA 80225, email@example.com
Reduced intrusion-related gold deposits have become a new, low-grade, large-tonnage exploration target during the last decade. The best recognized examples of such deposits are recognized throughout the Tintina Gold Province of the northern North American Cordillera. Because such examples may have many features in common with orogenic gold deposits, such as anomalous Bi, W, and Te, low salinity and CO2-rich ore fluids, and a spatial/temporal association with igneous rocks, confusion and controversy have now become commonplace in classification of many gold deposits formed along convergent margins. The best discriminators of IRGS are likely to be their: (1) regional location in deformed shelf sequences on the inboard side of a series of accreted terranes and within terranes that also contain important tin and(or) tungsten deposits; (2) local spatial association of gold ores with cupolas and contact aureoles of relativelyreduced, alkaline-leaning, and volatile-rich plutons; (3) post-deformational timing of gold deposition; (4) extremely low sulfide content (commonly <1 vol. %) of ores within igneous bodies and the outward zoning, through proximal skarns and to distal base metal-rich veins, from the causative pluton; and (5) low grades (<1 g/t Au) of auriferous sheeted vein systems in pluton cupolas. Keywords: intrusion-related, gold, orogenic, Yukon, Alaska, ore deposit models
Since the commencement of the modern era in gold exploration and research in 1980, there have been major advances in the understanding and classification of a wide range of gold deposit types. Historically, most gold deposit types were classified according to their depth and temperature of formation (epithermal, mesothermal, and hypothermal), structural style (shear zone type), age (Precambrian gold), host rock-type (greenstone gold, turbidite-hosted gold, slate belt gold), or geographic area (Mother Lode type). In more recent times, with advances in analytical capabilities, there was an increased emphasis on associations with genetic models or fluid sources, thus labeling a deposit as a metamorphogenic, meteoric, evolved meteoric, or magmatic type of gold deposit. Most of these genetic deliberations focused on deposit types now most commonly described as orogenic gold deposits. This terminology came about with increased emergence in the understanding of plate tectonics, crustal evolution, and the nature of crustal-scale fluid flow. Orogenic gold deposits, as defined by Groves et al. (1998), are predominant and broadly synchronous with deformation, metamorphism, and magmatism in the fore-arc region of convergent orogens.
Niggli. (1999) that focused upon a wide-range of gold mineralization styles that were genetically associated with intrusions that lacked proximal base-metal occurrences. This was coined the intrusion-related gold systems (IRGS) model by Lang et al. which could include large areas of Mesozoic tectonism throughout the Russian Far East. For example. but had some degree of W and (or) Sn mineralization and a low primary oxidation state (thus differentiating these deposits from porphyry copper deposits and many of the examples described by Sillitoe. the best studied and best known examples of this deposit type. Geological Survey’s Ore Deposit Models (Cox & Singer. Characteristics of reduced IRGS Below.. 2001). The reduced IRGS model was mainly developed in response to observations. 2001) and intrusion-related models have subsequently been called upon to describe the genesis of an increasing number of gold deposits and districts throughout the world. Sillitoe and Thompson (1998) added to this model by emphasizing the association of several gold-only vein deposits with probable magmaticplutonic origins. Sillitoe (1991) defined a “broad spectrum of gold mineralization styles” within epizonal to mesozonal environments that showed clear evidence of being intrusion-related. the contemporary geological literature was essentially devoid of intrusionrelated gold models... Spurr. Clear Creek (Marsh et al. we list some of the significant characteristics of IRGS deposits as have been identified in the Tintina Gold Province (TGP) of Alaska and Yukon. which collectively comprise the Tintina Gold Province (Hart et al.g..g. the margins of the North China craton. Emmons. Sillitoe & Thompson. 1998. including many orebodies that had been previously classified as orogenic gold and/or as metamorphic in origin. McCoy et al. however. (2000). 1900. 1995. 2003). Walshe et al. and Dublin Gulch (Maloof et al. 2002). which form the IRGS of the TGP. The unrestrained proliferation of this model has led to a great deal of confusion among many economic geologists because critical empirical geological differences between an orogenic gold deposit and an IRGS are often ignored. exploration.. 1991). 1991. 2005). This orogen is typical of many others along the circum-Pacific region. 2000. and discoveries. intrusionrelated models have been emphasized by many workers (e. on gold systems across central Alaska and Yukon (e. are the best described examples of these systems.to high-temperature Mesozoic collisional belts of the northern part of the North American Cordilleran orogen. 1929. which are. with an increased focus directed towards genetic features (e. Lang & Baker. S. Beyond the debates and genetic controversies that take place in the geological literature. are found in the well-preserved.. and the Eastern province/Median 126 . 1933). Recently.g. using examples mainly from the circum-Pacific arc settings. 1556. 2000). DeLaunay.. 1986).. Lang et al. there is no mention of such in milestone contributions that include the 75th Anniversary Volume of Economic Geology (Skinner. It is the topic of special volumes (Tucker & Smith. Lindgren. and then modified slightly and termed the reduced IRGS model by Thompson and Newberry (2000) to better emphasize the importance of the reduced state of the associated granitoids. Sillitoe. 1981) or the U. and then the subsequent research. Global perspective The intrusion-related gold-bearing deposits.g. This relatively recently developed intrusion-related gold deposit model is an extremely appealing concept and has been broadly adopted. 1997). Fort Knox in Alaska (Bakke 1995). Agricola. the main reason for distinguishing between intrusion-related and orogenic gold classifications is the fundamentally different approaches to gold exploration methodology required by each model. 1926. moderate.Despite the fact that genetic connections between gold ores and granitic rocks have been long recognized (e.. The model further evolved with the contribution of Thompson et al. and Scheelite Dome in Yukon (Mair 2004).. 1913. Newberry. 1923.
and locally more mafic (monzodiorite) and more alkalic (quartz syenite) phases. some of which are carbonaceous and their melting may have assisted in maintaining a low magmatic redox state.. garnet.. confirming a variety of depths to pluton crystallisation. but highly fractionated peraluminous phases contain muscovite. Associated dykes of aplite and pegmatite. are locally alkalic. Other auriferous systems include sheeted auriferous veins and W. All gold-related intrusions in the TGP are undeformed. such as an As-Sb-Hg signature. epithermal) are concentrated where relatively unmetamorphosed. There are no volcanic rocks associated with the post-arc intrusions. as well as numerous mafic phases including lamprophyres.. Plutons have many phases. and the northern (Caledonian Kazakhstania. 1999). and geochemically plot in the I-type field. are not typically calc-alkaline. The plutons are dominantly metaluminous. There are no batholiths. Mair. whereas others intrude amphibolite facies metasedimentary rocks that were metamorphosed in response to crustal thickening during collision. and younger than plutonism of the arc. Mineral equilibrium assemblages and fluid inclusion data indicate formation pressures that vary greatly between 0. eastern Cordillera of South America). b). Magmatic setting and association Several hundred granitoid plutons. and sills form a series of several hundred kilometerlong.g. Most plutons are typically small (<5km2) and are dominated by leucocratic and felsic magmatic phases.3 to 3.g. New Zealand. coincident mineral and plutonic belts in the TGP (Mortensen et al. which is the youngest and most landward of all the Cretaceous magmatic systems within the orogen (Hart et al. are common. shallow levels to the orogens are preserved. as they are dominated by sills or dykes. and pyroxene is locally common. 2001. The TGP deposits occur within Paleoproterozoic and Paleozoic basinal miogeoclinal sedimentary rocks. Baikal orogen. Tectonic setting Reduced IRGS deposits are best developed in intrusions that were emplaced into the region behind an accretionary orogen and into rocks of the deformed continental margin backstop. Telfer district. Biotite is the dominant mafic mineral. the gold deposit-associated magmatism is not related to typical arc magmatism. Baker and Lang. as they were intruded about 10 million years after deformation. with considerably lesser hornblende. and typically host low temperature metal assemblages and alteration phases traditionally thought of as being characteristic of epithermal precious metal deposits.batholith of the South Island. Tian Shan orogenic system) and western margins (southern European massifs) to the Paleo-Tethys Ocean.5 kbar (e. and toumaline. Among the most prolific. Although the setting has been called far back-arc (e. some of the plutonic belts in these Paleozoic-Mesozoic accretionary sequences are likely to be similar to those in the northern Cordillera of North America and thus might be favorable targets for similar IRGS. Accretionary orogens of Paleozoic age would include the southern and northern Gondwana margins (Tasman orogenic system. The plutons defy characterization. skarn. Uralian orogen. and may be several hundred to one thousand kilometers inland from the arc. Many of the granites intrude unmetamorphosed to low grade sedimentary rocks. monzonites. Depth of formation The intrusions and associated IRGS mineralization exhibit a wide range of characteristics that indicate a range of magmatic and related hydrothermal events at depths of <1km to >8km. is the Tombstone Belt. forming quartz monzogranites. 2000).. Importantly.and Au-bearing reduced skarns in the cupolas and in wide thermal aureoles to plutons. dykes. northern Africa. but mostly 127 . Thompson et al. The magmas are silica-rich (64-72%). 2004a. and importantly alkalic-leaning. but variations are subtle. Clearly some magmatic-hydrothermal systems were active shallowly. 2004). with most between 4 and 6 km. whereas other epigenetic deposit types (porphyry. Gold lodes in all Phanerozoic metamorphic belts are dominated by orogenic gold deposits.
attest to a large crustal contribution to the magmas (Marsh et al.and tellurium-bearing phases. epsilon Nd values between –8 and –20. Igneous bodies host associated tungsten. Additionally.. proximal. Note the wide range of mineralization styles and geochemical variations that vary predictably outward from a central pluton. Deposit variation and zonation There is considerable breadth in the metallogeny of the mid–Cretaceous plutons of the TGP (Fig. silver. 1. 2002). The spatial relationships and metal assemblages of the occurrences are zoned with respect to a central mineralizing pluton in response to steep temperature and fluid chemical gradients away from the causative pluton. Lang et al.. (2002). Fig. From Hart et al. in addition to the gold.71. These include intrusion-hosted sheeted and rarely stockwork auriferous quartz veins (Au±Bi±W±Te). thermal aureole-hosted replacement. tin. molybdenum.. 128 . 2003. Initial Sr isotope values in excess of 0. and fracture controlled mineralization occurs in metasedimentary rocks (Au-As±Sb).lack hornblende and magnetite. Mair. 1999. The intrusion-hosted ore assemblage contains high fineness gold intergrown with bismuth. Cu±Bi±Te). there is considerable.. but predictable variation in the styles of mineralization and the elemental associations of gold occurrences surrounding any individual pluton. 2004). The deposits typically show an evolution from early. 2000. General plan model of intrusion-related gold systems from the Tintina Gold Province. Most plutons are considered ilmenite series because they lack magnetite. Skarns are present in contact zones adjacent to the intrusions (Au±W. and gemstone concentrations. disseminated. and d18O values of 12-15 per mil. copper. high-temperature magmatic stages to lower temperature hydrothermal veins. which locally are associated with scheelite. uranium. 2000. 1). and fissure veins vary outward from Au-As to Au-As-Sb to Pb-Zn-Ag (Thompson et al. Hart et al.
For example.15 to 0. Deposits in shallow environments. Fluids There is a wide variation in fluid inclusion compositions between deposits displaying mesozonal and epizonal characteristics. The deposits are characterized by a low-sulphide (dd 5 volume %. are characterized by an immiscible brine (>30 wt% NaCl equiv. The Fe2O3/FeO ratios are 0..y. 2004. Archean intrusion-related mineralization is also noted to be associated with syenitic intrusions in the Abitibi belt of Canada (Robert. Other Phanerozoic stated examples of intrusion-hosted gold. Deposits of similar temperatures. 2001).. Bierlein & McKnight. turbidite-hosted orogenic gold systems in the western Lachlan fold belt of Victoria (Miller & Wilson. and to be the result of complex interplay between exsolution of different volatiles (carbon dioxide. at the very least and independent of classification. Stuwe.. most geochronological age data for deposits are within two million years of granitoid crystallization dates (Hart et al. 1998) and along the northern margin of the North China craton (Nie et al. in New Zealand’s Otago region (de Ronde et al. Timing Magmatism and associated mineralization are entirely post-orogenic. These include Wallaby (Hall et al.. Goldfarb et al.3 and are mostly at or below the quartz-fayallite-magnetite (QFM) oxide buffer (Hart et al. 2004b). such as at Jiaodong (Wang et al. and among the orogenic veins in the Meguma terrane of Nova Scotia (Kontak et al.).).. decay constants. 2001) and some of the Golden Mile orebody (Walsh et al. occurring at least 10 m.Oxidation state Plutons that are associated with gold mineralization in the TGP have a low primary oxidation state. 2004c)...15. with nonetheless high formation temperature (>350 °C). Even with variations between isotopic systems. to be of magmatic origin.) and low-salinity (< 5 wt% NaCl equiv. whereas orogenic gold deposits are widely considered to result from crustal-scale fluid flow likely derived from metamorphic dehydration (Groves et al. 1998. locally containing loellingite. 1998. 2004). 2002). Aeromagnetic responses are low. 2000). The gold deposits are associated with the last magmatic pulse in the belt. 1998). This is not entirely surprising because orogenic gold deposits typically form in regions where there is a broad spatial and temporal connection between orogenic/ metamorphic processes and granitoid magmatism (Groves et al. but no magnetite or hematite. and chlorine) from felsic melts at differing crustal levels (Baker. and standards. both in the Eastern Goldfields province of the Yilgarn craton.. and typically arsenopyrite and pyrite. but are all less than 0.. after peak metamorphism of rocks in the TGP.. magmatic gold mineralization has been interpreted to be present among well-documented. 2004). Plutons mostly contain ilmentite and titanite. These contrasting fluid types are interpreted as magmatic in origin. Mineralization is the same age as the host or causative granite.5 x 10-3 SI units. are considered to be genetically related to the 129 . water. Similarly. 2001). contain abundant low-salinity (<10 wt% NaCl equiv. 2003). CO2-H2O fluids. often <1 volume %) reduced mineral assemblage dominated by pyrrhotite. intrusion-related gold deposit models have been attributed to deposits in Archean orogenic gold camps. and lack magnetite.. Fluid inclusions locally contain methane. but in deeper environments. Misclassified deposits? The IRGS are the product of local-scale fluid convection that is likely derived from and driven by a cooling magmatic body.. and has long been considered by some workers to be related to felsic porphyries throughout the Superior Province (Card et al. Magnetic susceptibility measurements average 0.) vapor that commonly contains CO2. 1989). which in some deposits are post-dated by moderate to high salinity brines (10 to 40 wt% NaCl equiv. although the significance of this feature is not yet clear. 2005). A number of deposits in regions dominated by orogenic gold deposits have been recently reinterpreted as belonging to the IRGS class or.
y. Fort Knox).. Metal associations –significant copper is lacking. as having an intrusion-related origin. characterized by a wide range of gold grades. causative pluton. replacements etc. An intrusion-related classification for TGP deposits such as Donlin Creek (25 Moz. Orogenic gold deposits lack such a diversity in style within a given lithology and commonly have consistent gold grades. have low magnetic susceptibilities and low ferric:ferrous ratios <0. stockworks. 130 . have now been reinterpreted. approximately contemporaneous intrusive rocks (e. 2000) and Muruntau (Wall et al. greisen alteration. where orogenic gold deposits are most common. but are not surprising. These types of plutons are uncommon in fore-arc settings. Smith et al. such as Jilau (Cole et al. the following distinguishing characteristics. of a central mineralizing pluton. which results in concentric metal zones that develop outward for a few kilometers... 2003. but gold doesn’t correlate with tungsten in the gold deposits. 2004).. Timing-deposits are coeval (±2 m. Despite the fact that the “reduced” IRGS model is pubescent and still evolving. Goldfarb et al.g.. associated plutons generate scheelite-rich hydrothermal systems.and Sb-rich zones in their epizonal parts. (2002) suggested that this problem resulted from the inclusion of too many deposit types within a complex. Physical features and geochemical support for characteristics such as high volatile contents. can be used to differentiate it from other gold deposit models: Zoning-thermal gradients surrounding cooling plutons are steep. derived from well-understood deposits. Sheeted veins-the most distinctive style of gold mineralization in IRGS are sheeted arrays of parallel. or hosted by. presence of aplites/pegmatites. single stage quartz veins found over 10s to 100s of metres preferentially located in the pluton’s cupola. IRGS develop subsequent to regional metamorphic and deformation episodes in the host allochthons. low-sulphide content.e.host pluton. but the debate on their classification and origin will likely continue (i. Diverse deposit styles-fluids exsolving from cooling plutons are opportunistic and cool quickly depositing metals in numerous available geological settings resulting in veins. Both Pogo and Donlin Creek are instead considered by us to be orogenic deposits that are proximal to. but with bulk minable volumes present at sub-gram grades (e. shear zone-related). Associated and gold-correlative Bi and Te geochemical signatures characterize intrusion-relate mineralization. 1999. ilmenite-series plutons that lack magnetite. with the exception of Hg. 2005). Goldfarb et al. Orogenic gold deposits show little zoning. In contrast to orogenic gold deposits. single all-encompassing model and suggested a more-refined intrusion-related gold model that excluded deposits associated with shear zones and epizonal styles of mineralization. associated skarns.) with their associated. 2004). Hart et al. but are also a feature of numerous hydrothermal deposit types and thus are not distinctive. as even key deposits within the TGP are controversial. was questioned and they were excluded from the model because they lack the distinguishing IRGS features. Distinguishing features of IRGS Intrusion-related and orogenic gold deposits share a large number of common characteristics. Redox state-Reduced IRGS are associated with felsic. for example.. epizonal) and Pogo (7 Moz. Groves et al. Pluton features-associated plutons have “smoking gun” characteristics that indicate generation of hydrothermal and mineralizing fluids. 2003.g. evidence of fractionation and fluid exsolution. in some cases.3. These controversies in classification and genetic association are problematic. tourmaline veins. skarns. or just beyond the thermal aureole.. Even major deposits within the world’s largest orogenic gold province of central Asian. Rhys et al.. and cupolahosted mineralization.
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