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An Australian provenance for the eastern Otago Schist protolith, South Island, New Zealand: evidence from detrital zircon age patterns and implications for the origin of its gold

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Uranium–lead age patterns of detrital zircons in Otago Schist meta-sandstones from eastern Otago, including areas of orogenic gold mineralisation, are mostly consistent with a Rakaia Terrane (Torlesse Composite Terrane) accretionary wedge protolith. Southwest of the Hyde-Macraes and Rise & Shine shear zones the depositional age is regarded as Middle–Late Triassic. At the south and west margins, there are two areas in the Late Triassic Waipapa Terrane protolith. Northeast of the Hyde-Macraes Shear Zone, the schist protolith has Middle to Late Triassic and middle to late Permian depositional ages of Rakaia Terrane affinity. At the northeastern margin of the Hyde-Macraes Shear Zone, there is a narrow strip with a mid-Carboniferous protolith, which may be a counterpart of the Carboniferous accretionary wedge in the New England Orogen, eastern Australia. Ordovician–Silurian zircons are a minor but distinctive feature in many of the protolith age patterns and form significant age components at hard-rock gold locations. These constrain the provenance of Rakaia Terrane protolith sediments to Late Triassic time and within the Permian–Triassic magmatic arcs at the northeastern Australian continental margin and partly within the Ordovician–Silurian granitoids of the Charters Towers Province hinterland and environs. The latter have extensive gold mineralisation and thus upon exhumation might be the origin of Otago gold.
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Keywords: New Zealand; Otago Schist; U–Pb dating; detrital zircon; gold mineralisation; provenance; terranes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: GNS Science, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin, 9054, New Zealand 2: GNS Science, PO Box 30368, Lower Hutt, 5040, New Zealand 3: Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems (CCFS) and GEMOC and ARC CoE for Core to Crust Fluid Systems, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW, 2109, Australia

Publication date: August 18, 2017

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