The geological setting of lode-gold deposits in the central southern Urals: a review

Research paper by A. F. M. Kisters, F. M. Meyer, I. B. Seravkin, S. E. Znamensky, A. M. Kosarev, R. G. W. Ertl

Indexed on: 01 Mar '99Published on: 01 Mar '99Published in: Geologische Rundschau : Zeitschrift fur allgemeine Geologie


The late-Paleozoic Uralides represent one of the largest lode-gold metallogenic provinces in the world. In the southern Urals, gold distribution is heterogeneous and is confined mainly to two tectonostratigraphic zones, namely the Main Uralian fault and the East Uralian zone. The important lode-gold districts within and in the immediate hangingwall of the first-order crustal suture of the Main Uralian fault are characterized by a complex tectonic history of earlier compressional tectonics involving thrusting, folding and reverse faulting and later transcurrent shearing. Gold mineralization is hosted by second- and third-order brittle to brittle–ductile strike-slip faults that developed late during the kinematic history of the Main Uralian fault. Strike-slip reactivation of earlier compressional structures was related to the late-stage docking of the passive margin of the East European platform with island-arc complexes of the southern Urals, an event that is tentatively related to changes in plate motion during the final stages of terrane accretion during the upper Permian and lower Triassic. Gold mineralization was controlled by the permeability characteristics of the hydrothermal conduits, as well as by competence contrasts and geochemistry of the mainly volcanic host rocks. Mineralization occurred at relatively shallow crustal levels (2–6 km) and largely post dates peak-metamorphism of the host rocks. The large and very large (up to 300 to Au) gold deposits of the East Uralian zone are hosted by upper-Paleozoic granitoid massifs. Gold mineralization is temporally associated with the main phase of regional-scale compressional tectonics and granite plutonism during the upper Carboniferous and lower Permian. Controlling structures have a dominantly east–west strike and occur as hybrid shear-tensional vein systems in competent granitoids subjected to east/west-directed regional shortening. Deformation textures and alteration mineral assemblages indicate lower-amphibolite-facies conditions of mineralization close to peak metamorphic conditions that are associated with the mid-Permian regional metamorphism and tectonism. Gold deposits in the southern Urals are, therefore, polygenetic and are temporally and genetically distinct in each of the two major mineralized tectonostratigraphic zones of this well-preserved collisional orogenic belt. The different timing of ore fluid generation and fluid discharge is interpreted to be the result of the different tectonic, metamorphic and magmatic evolution of terranes in the southern Urals.