Most of the world's Mississippi Valley-type (MVT) zinc-lead deposits occur in orogenic forelands. We examine tectonic aspects of foreland evolution as part of a broader study of why some forelands are rich in MVT deposits, whereas others are barren. The type of orogenic foreland (collisional versus Andean-type versus inversion-type) is not a first-order control, because each has MVT deposits (e.g., Northern Arkansas, Pine Point, and Cevennes, respectively). In some MVT districts (e.g., Tri-State and Central Tennessee), mineralization took place atop an orogenic forebulge, a low-amplitude (a few hundred meters), long-wavelength (100-200 km) swell formed by vertical loading of the foreland plate. In the foreland of the active Banda Arc collision zone, a discontinuous forebulge reveals some of the physiographic and geologic complexities of the forebulge environment, and the importance of sea level in determining whether or not a forebulge will emerge and thus be subject to erosion. In addition to those on extant forebulges, some MVT deposits occur immediately below unconformities that originated at a forebulge, only to be subsequently carried toward the orogen by the plate-tectonic conveyor (e.g., Daniel's Harbour and East Tennessee). Likewise, some deposits are located along syn-collisional, flexure-induced normal and strike-slip faults in collisional forelands (e.g., Northern Arkansas, Daniel's Harbour, and Tri-State districts). These findings reveal the importance of lithospheric flexure, and suggest a conceptual tectonic model that accounts for an important subset of MVT deposits-those in the forelands of collisional orogens. The MVT deposits occur both in flat-lying and in thrust-faulted strata; in the latter group, mineralization postdated thrusting in some instances (e.g., Picos de Europa) but may have predated thrusting in other cases (e.g., East Tennessee).
Additional publication details
Tectonic controls of Mississippi Valley-type lead-zinc mineralization in orogenic forelands