Gold deposits in the Xiaoqinling–Xiong'ershan region, Qinling Mountains, central China
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The gold-rich Xiaoqinling–Xiong'ershan region in eastern Shaanxi and western Henan provinces, central China, lies about 30–50 km inland of the southern margin of the North China craton. More than 100 gold deposits and occurrences are concentrated in the Xiaoqinling (west), Xiaoshan (middle), and Xiong'ershan (east) areas. Late Archean gneiss of the Taihua Group, and Middle Proterozoic metavolcanic rocks of the Xiong'er Group are the main host rocks for the deposits. Mesozoic granitoids (ca. 178–104 Ma) are present in most gold districts, but deposits are typically hosted in the Precambrian basement rocks hundreds of meters to as far as 10 km from the intrusions and related hornfels zones. Deposits in the Xiaoqinling and Xiaoshan areas are best classified as orogenic gold deposits, with ores occurring in a number of distinct belts both in quartz veins and disseminated in altered metamorphic rocks. Alteration assemblages are dominated by quartz, sericite, pyrite, and carbonate minerals. The ore-forming fluids were low salinity, CO2-rich, and characterized by isotopically heavy δ18O. Four deposits (Dongchuang, Wenyu, Yangzhaiyu, and Dahu) in the Xiaoqinling area each contain resources of about 1 Moz Au. Some of the gold deposits in the Xiong'ershan area represent more shallowly emplaced tellurium-enriched orogenic systems, which include resources of approximately 1–1.5 Moz Au at Shanggong and Beiling (or Tantou). Others are epithermal deposits (e.g., Qiyugou and Dianfang) that are hosted in volcanic breccia pipes. Isotopic dates for all gold deposits, although often contradictory, generally cluster between 172–99 Ma and are coeval with emplacement of the post-kinematic granitoids. The gold deposits formed during a period of relaxation of far-field compressional stresses, clearly subsequent to the extensive Paleozoic–early Mesozoic accretion of arc terranes and the Yangtze craton onto the southern margin of the North China craton. Hydrothermal and magmatic events occurred locally where extension-related Precambrian basement uplifting took place along the craton margin. Fluids for the orogenic gold deposits in the Xiaoqinling, Xiaoshan, and Xiong'ershan areas may have been released from evolving magmas or resulted from prograde metamorphic reactions within the uplift zones. Alternatively, for the epithermal gold deposits at shallower levels in the Xiong'ershan area, gold-transporting fluids were mainly exsolved from coeval magmas, although meteoric water was also involved in these hydrothermal systems.
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