Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 129-136

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Late Paleoproterozoic sedimentary rock-hosted stratiform copper deposits in South China: their possible link to the supercontinent cycle

  • Xin-Fu ZhaoAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Hong Kong
  • , Mei-Fu ZhouAffiliated withDepartment of Earth Sciences, University of Hong Kong Email author 
  • , Jian-Wei LiAffiliated withState Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, China University of GeosciencesFaculty of Earth Resources, China University of Geosciences
  • , Liang QiAffiliated withState Key Lab of Ore Deposit Geochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Giant sedimentary rock-hosted stratiform copper (SSC) deposits commonly occur in rift environments, temporally coincident with the breakup of the Rodinia and Pangea supercontinents. However, whether or not such deposits have also formed during the breakup of the Paleoproterozoic Columbia supercontinent is not well known. A group of dolostone-hosted Cu deposits in late Paleoproterozoic rift-related sedimentary sequences of the Dongchuan Group, South China, form one of the largest SSC districts in the world. Being one of the largest SSC deposits in the region, the Yinmin deposit has stratiform Cu orebodies intruded by dolerite dykes. One dyke has a SIMS zircon U–Pb age of 1,701 ± 28 Ma, slightly younger than the ore-hosting strata with a zircon U–Pb age of 1,742 ± 13 Ma for a tuff unit. Six chalcopyrite and bornite separates from stratiform orebodies contain highly radiogenic Os and extremely low common Os and yield a weighted mean Re–Os model age of 1,666 ± 82 Ma and a 187Os–187Re errorchron age of 1,585 ± 100 Ma. The present zircon U–Pb and sulfide Re–Os ages thus constrain the timing of the mineralization at ~1,700 Ma. The Yinmin deposit and, by inference, other SSC deposits in the region, arguably represent a large-scale SSC mineralization event during the late Paleoproterozoic. The formation of these deposits was coeval with the initial breakup/fragmentation of the Columbia supercontinent. This study highlights the temporal and likely genetic links between large-sized SSC deposits and the supercontinent cycle.


Dongchuan-type Cu deposit Late Paleoproterozoic Rift basin South China Supercontinent cycle