Back to overview

Gold concentrations in metamorphic fluids: A LA-ICPMS study of fluid inclusions from the Alpine orogenic belt

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Rauchenstein-Martinek Klara, Wagner Thomas, Wälle Markus, Heinrich Christoph A.,
Project Fluid chemistry and fluid-rock interaction of Alpine veins, Central Alps
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Chemical Geology
Volume (Issue) 385
Page(s) 70 - 83
Title of proceedings Chemical Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2014.07.018


Vein and shear-zone hosted gold deposits in orogenic terrains of Archean to Phanerozoic age are formed from dominantly metamorphic fluids. It is debated, however, whether normal crustal source rocks are adequate to generate economic deposits, or whether selectively gold-enriched sources such as mafic to ultramafic lavas, black shales or an input of magmatic fluid make a decisive difference between the formation of high-grade deposits and barren vein systems. As an essential baseline study in this debate, we have analyzed the metal and sulfur content of fluid inclusions in barren veins across a prograde sequence from greenschist to amphibolite facies in the Central Alpine metamorphic belt. Comparison of the analyzed fluid compositions with thermodynamic solubility calculations shows that the fluids record metamorphic dehydration, decarbonation and desulfidation of the continental crust. However, gold with concentrations of 0.003 to 0.03 ppm is increasingly undersaturated in the highest-temperature aqueous–carbonic fluids, which otherwise resemble those forming major gold deposits elsewhere. Our results show that the regional-metamorphic fluids could carry 10–1000 times higher gold concentrations, implying that pre-enriched source rocks or hydrous magmas may play an essential role in generating highly gold-endowed orogenic belts.