Flash vaporization during earthquakes evidenced by gold deposits

Weatherley, Dion K. and Henley, Richard W. (2013) Flash vaporization during earthquakes evidenced by gold deposits. Nature Geoscience, 6 4: 294-298. doi:10.1038/NGEO1759

Author Weatherley, Dion K.
Henley, Richard W.
Title Flash vaporization during earthquakes evidenced by gold deposits
Journal name Nature Geoscience   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1752-0894
Publication date 2013-04
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1038/NGEO1759
Volume 6
Issue 4
Start page 294
End page 298
Total pages 5
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Much of the world’s known gold has been derived from arrays of quartz veins. The veins formed during periods of mountain building that occurred as long as 3 billion years ago1, 2, 3, and were deposited by very large volumes of water that flowed along deep, seismically active faults. The veins formed under fluctuating pressures4, 5 during earthquakes6, but the magnitude of the pressure fluctuations and their influence on mineral deposition is not known. Here we use a simple thermo-mechanical piston model to calculate the drop in fluid pressure experienced by a fluid-filled fault cavity during an earthquake. The geometry of the model is constrained using measurements of typical fault jogs, such as those preserved in the Revenge gold deposit in Western Australia7, and other gold deposits around the world. We find that cavity expansion generates extreme reductions in pressure that cause the fluid that is trapped in the jog to expand to a very low-density vapour. Such flash vaporization of the fluid results in the rapid co-deposition of silica with a range of trace elements to form gold-enriched quartz veins. Flash vaporization continues as more fluid flows towards the newly expanded cavity, until the pressure in the cavity eventually recovers to ambient conditions. Multiple earthquakes progressively build economic-grade gold deposits.
Keyword Western Australia
Fluid pressure
New Zealand
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: W.H. Bryan Mining Geology Research Centre
Official 2014 Collection
Sustainable Minerals Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 48 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 55 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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