Anatomy of a world-class epizonal orogenic-gold system: A holistic thermochronological analysis of the Xincheng gold deposit, Jiaodong Peninsula, eastern China

Liang Zhang, Li Qiang Yang, Roberto F. Weinberg, David I. Groves, Zhong Liang Wang, Guang Wei Li, Yue Liu, Chao Zhang, Zhao Kun Wang

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Xincheng is a world-class orogenic-gold deposit hosted by the Early Cretaceous Guojialing granitoid in the Jiaodong Peninsula, eastern China. A zircon U–Pb age of 126 ± 1.4 Ma, together with previous data, constrain the emplacement of the Guojialing intrusion to 132–123 Ma. The granitoid underwent subsolidus ductile deformation at >500 °C following its intrusion. The small difference in age between the youngest zircon U–Pb age of unaltered granitoid (~123 Ma) and the ca. 120 Ma 40 Ar/ 39 Ar ages of sericite, associated with breccias and gold mineralization within it indicate initial rapid cooling from magmatic temperatures to those prevalent during brittle deformation and associated gold mineralization at ~220–300 °C. Evidence of a direct association between granitic magmatism and gold mineralization, such as at least localized near-magmatic depositional temperatures and metal zoning evident in undoubted intrusion-related gold deposits, is absent. The 40 Ar/ 39 Ar age of ~120 Ma coincides with the mineralization age of many other orogenic-gold deposits along the Jiaojia Fault. Sixteen zircon fission-track (ZFT) ages across the ore and alteration zones range from 112.9 ± 3.4 to 99.1 ± 2.7 Ma. The long period of cooling to the ~100 Ma ZFT closure temperatures recorded here suggests that ambient temperatures for hydrothermal alteration systems lasted to ~100 Ma, possibly because of their focus at Xincheng within the young Guojialing granitoid as it cooled more slowly below approximately 300 °C to 220 °C. However, the restricted number of auriferous ore stages, combined with the presence of cross-cutting gold-free quartz-carbonate veins, indicate that gold itself was only deposited over a restricted time interval at ~120 Ma, consistent with studies of orogenic gold deposits elsewhere. This highlights the complex interplay between magmatism, deformation and the longevity of hydrothermal systems that cause genetic controversies. Based on apatite fission-track (AFT) ages, the Xincheng gold deposit was then uplifted and exhumed to near the surface of the crust at 15 Ma, probably due to movement on the crustal-scale Tan-Lu Fault. Recognition of such exhumation histories along gold belts has conceptual exploration significance in terms of the probability of discovery of additional exposed or sub-surface gold ore bodies as discovery is as much a function of preservation as formation of the deposits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-70
Number of pages21
JournalGondwana Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Jiaodong Peninsula
  • Orogenic gold
  • Thermochronology
  • Xincheng gold deposit

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