Geological Magazine


Mineralization, antiforms and crustal extension in andesitic arcs

A. H. G. Mitchella1 and J. C. Carlilea2

a1 Three Trees, Knelle Rd, Robertsbridge, E. Sussex TN32 5DZ, UK

a2 Newcrest Mining Ltd, Level 9, 600 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, Victoria 1004, Australia


The distribution and stratigraphic position of porphyry copper and epithermal gold deposits in andesitic arcs of the western Pacific and eastern Europe suggest that porphyry copper and epithermal vein deposits of adularia–sericite type develop successively under different stress regimes in an evolving arc, rather than being genetically related as commonly supposed. Absence of coeval high-level stocks in the root zones of many adularia-sericite deposits suggests that circulation of the dominantly meteoric hydrothermal fluids is not driven by shallow intrusions. The location of several world-class deposits on basement geanticlines, and on more localized antiforms of which at least one has been interpreted as a metamorphic core complex, implies that elevation of the arc, emplacement of magmatic sills at depth and adularia–sericite type gold mineralization are genetically related to subduction-induced crustal extension. Ascent of deep hydrothermal fluids, predominantly meteoric but with a metamorphic or magmatic component, may be controlled by regional low-angle structures at depth, analogous to those inferred for some mesothermal gold deposits. Mineralization at shallow (epithermal) depths in high-angle structures largely reflects the high geothermal gradient and mixing of deep fluid with cool meteoric water in or at the base of the permeable volcanic cover. Andesitic magmatism may resume following porphyry copper mineralization, adularia–sericite epithermal gold mineralization, or continued extension to form a ‘back arc’ spreading system, depending on the relative plate motion.

(Received March 18 1993)

(Accepted August 30 1993)