Early Cambrian forearc ophiolite-hosted VMS-type Cu deposit in the North Qaidam belt, northern Tibetan Plateau

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Geosystems and Geoenvironment


The North Qaidam belt is an important polymetallic metallogenic belt in the northwestern region of China. However, the tectonic setting and age of related VMS deposits remain debated. Here we performed an integrated analysis of field relationship, geochemistry, and geochronology for hosting rocks of the Lüliangshan VMS-type Cu deposit and surrounding mafic-ultramafic rocks. These rocks, including serpentinite, pyroxenite, chromitite, mafic dykes with associated meta-plagiogranite, lava, chert, and limestone, constitute a relatively complete ophiolite complex, indicating that the Lüliangshan Cu deposit can also be introduced as an ophiolite-hosted VMS deposit. Geochemical data show that the meta-dolerite and ore-hosting lava exhibit geochemical features similar to tholeiitic forearc basalt and are probably generated by partial melting of a depleted mantle source metasomatized by hydrous fluids. Some lavas have boninitic compositions and are formed by partial melting of residual mantle after extraction of forearc basalt. Some ore-hosting lavas also have geochemical affinities to island arc tholeiites as a result of more SSZ components involved in their magma source. The chert samples have remarkably high Fe2O3T contents and are classified as iron-rich one of hydrothermal origin, which is deposited in a ridge-proximal environment. These rocks, together with chromitites with subducted-related geochemical features, collectively indicate that the ophiolite-hosted VMS-type Cu deposit was formed in the forearc setting. Meta-gabbros intruding the ore-hosting lavas yield zircon U-Pb ages mainly ranging from 527 Ma to 518 Ma. The new ages of forearc ophiolite and the oldest age of island-arc rocks (514 Ma) suggest that the Lüliangshan Cu deposit formed in the early Cambrian during early-stage subduction of Proto-Tethys Ocean.

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National Natural Science Foundation of China



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