A review of the geodynamic setting of large-scale Late Mesozoic gold mineralization in the North China Craton

An association with lithospheric thinning

Jin Hui Yang*, Fu Yuan Wu, Simon A. Wilde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

374 Citations (Scopus)


Abundant gold deposits are distributed along the margins of the North China Craton (NCC). Occurring throughout the Precambrian basement and located in or proximal to Mesozoic granitoids, these deposits show a consistent spatial-temporal association with Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous magmatism and are characterized by quartz lode or disseminated styles of mineralization with extensive alteration of wall rock. Their ages are mainly Early Cretaceous (130-110 Ma) and constrain a very short period of metallogenesis. Sr-Nd-Pb isotopic tracers of ores, minerals and associated rocks indicate that gold and associated metals mainly were derived from multi-sources, i.e., the wall rocks (Precambrian basement and Mesozoic granites) and associated mafic rocks. Previous studies, including high surface heat flow, uplift and later basin development, slow seismic wave speeds in the upper mantle, and a change in the character of mantle xenoliths sampled by Paleozoic to Cenozoic magmas, have been used to suggest that ancient, cratonic mantle lithosphere was removed from the base of the NCC some time after the Ordovician, and replaced by younger, less refractory lithospheric mantle. The geochemistry and isotopic compositions of the mafic rocks associated with gold mineralization (130-110 Ma) indicate that they were derived from an ancient enriched lithospheric mantle source; whereas, the mafic dikes and volcanic rocks younger than 110 Ma were derived from a relatively depleted mantle source, i.e., asthenospheric mantle. According to their age and sources, relation to magmatism and geodynamic framework, the gold deposits were formed during lithospheric thinning. The removal of lithospheric mantle and the upwelling of new asthenospheric mantle induced partial melting and dehydration of the lithospheric mantle and lower crust due to an increase of temperature. The fluids derived from the lower crust were mixed with magmatic and meteoric waters, and resulted in the deposition of gold and associated metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-152
Number of pages28
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Early Cretaceous
  • Gold mineralization
  • Lithospheric thinning
  • North China Craton

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