Temporal relations between mineral deposits and global tectonic cycles

Peter A. Cawood, Chris J. Hawkesworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Mineral deposits are heterogeneously distributed in both space and time, with variations reflecting tectonic setting, evolving environmental conditions, as in the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and secular changes in the Earth's thermal history. The distribution of deposit types whose settings are tied to plate margin processes (e.g. orogenic gold, volcanic-hosted massive sulphide, Mississippi valley type Pb-Zn deposits) correlates well with the supercontinent cycle, whereas deposits related to intra-cratonic settings and mantle-driven igneous events, such as Ni-Cu-PGE deposits, lack a clear association. The episodic distribution of deposits tied to the supercontinent cycle is accentuated by selective preservation and biasing of rock units and events during supercontinent assembly, a process that encases the deposit within the assembled supercontinent and isolates it from subsequent removal and recycling at plate margins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-21
Number of pages13
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Silver
  • Silicate mineral
  • Mine

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