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Millennial pulses of ore formation and an extra-high Tibetan Plateau

Li, Yang; Allen, Mark B.; Li, Xian-Hua

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Yang Li

Xian-Hua Li


Quantifying the rhythms and rates of magmatic-hydrothermal systems is critical for a better understanding of their controls on ore formation and the dynamics of magmatic reservoirs that feed them. We reconstructed the evolution of ore-forming fluids using hydrothermal quartz from the 17.4 Ma Zhibula skarn, Tibet. Ion probe analysis reveals sharp and dramatic changes in quartz δ18O values between 5‰ and −9.3‰, with fluid δ18O values varying between 2.8‰ and −18.2‰, which are best explained by transient meteoric water incursion into a hydrothermal system dominated by magmatic fluids. Two pulses of magmatic fluids and a meteoric water incursion event are inferred, which operated at the millennium scale (760−1510 yr) as constrained by the aluminum diffusion chronometer. Our results indicate that magmatic reservoirs are likely water unsaturated for most of their lifetime (>105−106 yr), with transient and episodic fluid exsolutions (~103 yr) being driven by magma replenishment or crystallization-induced water saturation. With focused and efficient metal deposition, multiple pulses of metalliferous fluids favor the formation of giant deposits with high grade. Meteoric water δ18O values (−25.4 ± 2.3‰) derived from Zhibula quartz further suggest a paleo-elevation of 5.9 ± 0.3 km; this transient early Miocene surface uplift plausibly was due to break-off of the oceanic slab attached to the Indian Plate. Our research highlights that ubiquitous hydrothermal quartz in orogenic belts can probe the dynamics of magmatic-hydrothermal systems and also quantify paleo-elevations, which has significant tectonic implications.


Li, Y., Allen, M. B., & Li, X. (2022). Millennial pulses of ore formation and an extra-high Tibetan Plateau. Geology, 50(6), 665-669.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 3, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 8, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jun 27, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 27, 2022
Journal Geology
Print ISSN 0091-7613
Electronic ISSN 1943-2682
Publisher Geological Society of America
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Issue 6
Pages 665-669


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