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Millennial pulses of ore formation and an extra-high Tibetan Plateau

Li, Yang and Allen, Mark B. and Li, Xian-Hua (2022) 'Millennial pulses of ore formation and an extra-high Tibetan Plateau.', Geology, 50 (6). pp. 665-669.


Quantifying the rhythms and rates of magmatic-hydrothermal systems is critical for a better understanding of their controls on ore formation and the dynamics of magmatic reservoirs that feed them. We reconstructed the evolution of ore-forming fluids using hydrothermal quartz from the 17.4 Ma Zhibula skarn, Tibet. Ion probe analysis reveals sharp and dramatic changes in quartz δ18O values between 5‰ and −9.3‰, with fluid δ18O values varying between 2.8‰ and −18.2‰, which are best explained by transient meteoric water incursion into a hydrothermal system dominated by magmatic fluids. Two pulses of magmatic fluids and a meteoric water incursion event are inferred, which operated at the millennium scale (760−1510 yr) as constrained by the aluminum diffusion chronometer. Our results indicate that magmatic reservoirs are likely water unsaturated for most of their lifetime (>105−106 yr), with transient and episodic fluid exsolutions (~103 yr) being driven by magma replenishment or crystallization-induced water saturation. With focused and efficient metal deposition, multiple pulses of metalliferous fluids favor the formation of giant deposits with high grade. Meteoric water δ18O values (−25.4 ± 2.3‰) derived from Zhibula quartz further suggest a paleo-elevation of 5.9 ± 0.3 km; this transient early Miocene surface uplift plausibly was due to break-off of the oceanic slab attached to the Indian Plate. Our research highlights that ubiquitous hydrothermal quartz in orogenic belts can probe the dynamics of magmatic-hydrothermal systems and also quantify paleo-elevations, which has significant tectonic implications.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.
Date accepted:03 January 2022
Date deposited:27 June 2022
Date of first online publication:08 March 2022
Date first made open access:27 June 2022

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