Metallogeny of accretionary orogens - The connection between lithospheric processes and metal endowment

Frank P. Bierlein, David Ian Groves, Peter A. Cawood

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106 Citations (Scopus)


Accretionary orogens throughout space and time represent extremely fertile settings for the formation and preservation of a wide variety of mineral deposit types. These range from those within active magmatic arcs, either in continental margin or intra-oceanic settings, to those that develop in a variety of arc-flanking environments, such as fore-arcs and back-arcs during deformation and exhumation of the continental margin. Deposit types also include those that form in more distal, far back-arc and foreland basin settings. The metallogenic signature and endowment of individual accretionary orogens are, at a fundamental level, controlled by the nature, composition and age of the sub-continental lithosphere, and a complex interplay between formational processes and preservational forces in an evolving Earth. Some deposit types, such as orogenic gold and volcanic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits, have temporal patterns that mimic the major accretionary and crustal growth events in Earth history, whereas others, such as porphyry Cu-Au-Mo and epithermal Au-Ag deposits, have largely preservational patterns. The presence at c. 3.4 Ga of (rare) orogenic gold deposits, whose formation necessitates some form of subduction-accretion, provides strong evidence that accretionary processes operated then at the margins of continental nuclei, while the widespread distribution of orogenic gold and VMS deposits at c. 2.7-2.6 Ga reflects the global distribution of accretionary orogens by this time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-292
Number of pages11
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Accretionary orogens
  • Lithosphere
  • Metal endowment
  • Mineral deposits
  • Plate tectonics

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