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Rapid dewatering of the crust deduced from ages of mesothermal gold deposits

Nature volume 354, pages 296298 (28 November 1991) | Download Citation

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Abstract

THE large-scale migration of fluids through the continental crust has been well documented, but there is no consensus regarding the timing of fluid migration relative to orogenic episodes, or rates of crustal dewatering1. Here we present40Ar/39Ar dates for muscovites from quartz veins along a major shear zone in southeast Alaska, which show that the veins were emplaced in the early Eocene, during the late stages of orogenic deformation. Hydrother-mal activity took place for only about 1 Myr and along a distance of at least 200 km. The fluids were generated by metamorphic reactions in subducted crust along the North American plate margin, and were apparently trapped in the crust by the low permeabilities accompanying a convergent tectonic regime until 56 Myr ago. The rapid dewatering event coincided with a change in plate motion at 56–55 Myr, which caused a shift from convergent to partly transcurrent tectonics. We suggest that this change in tectonic regime led to increased crustal permeabilities and hence the possibility of large-scale fluid migration.

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Affiliations

  1. US Geological Survey, Box 25046, MS 973, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225, USA

    • R. J. Goldfarb
    •  & L. W. Snee
  2. Echo Bay Mines, 3100 Channel Drive, Juneau, Alaska 99801, Canada

    • L. D. Miller
  3. Department of Geology, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775, Canada

    • R. J. Newberry

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https://doi.org/10.1038/354296a0

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