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Metamorphic belts are complex regions where accretion or collision has added to, or thickened, continental crust. Gold-rich deposits can be formed at all stages of orogen evolution, so that evolving metamorphic belts contain diverse gold deposit types that may be juxtaposed or overprint each other. This partly explains the high level of controversy on the origin of some deposit types, particularly those formed or overprinted/remobilized during the major compressional orogeny that shaped the final geometry of the hosting metamorphic belts. These include gold-dominated orogenic and intrusion-related deposits, but also particularly controversial gold deposits with atypical metal associations. There are a number of outstanding problems for all types of gold deposits in metamorphc belts. These include the following: (1) definitive classifications, (2) unequivocal recognition of fluid and metal sources, (3) understanding of fluid migration and focusing at all scales, (4) resolution of the precise role of granitoid magmatism, (5) precise gold-depositional mechanisms, particularly those producing high gold grades, and (6) understanding of the release of CO2-rich fluids from subducting slabs and subcreted oceanic crust and granitoid magmas at different crustal levels. Research needs to be better coordinated and more integrated, such that detailed fluid-inclusion, trace-element, and isotopic studies of both gold deposits and potential source rocks, using cutting-edge technology, are embedded in a firm geological framework at terrane to deposit scales. Ultimately, four-dimensional models need to be developed, involving high-quality, three-dimensional geological data combined with integrated chemical and fluid-flow modeling, to understand the total history of the hydrothermal systems involved. Such research, particularly that which can predict superior targets visible in data sets available to exploration companies before discovery, has obvious spin-offs for global- to deposit-scale targeting of deposits with superior size and grade in the covered terranes that will be the exploration focus of the twenty-first century.
Additional Publication Details
Gold deposits in metamorphic belts: Overview of current understanding, outstanding problems, future research, and exploration significance