Origins and Movement of Fluids During Deformation and Metamorphism in the Canadian Cordillera

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Science  18 Aug 1989:
Vol. 245, Issue 4919, pp. 733-736
DOI: 10.1126/science.245.4919.733


Stable isotope data from quartz veins in the Canadian Cordillera indicate that crustal fluids were heterogeneous in terms of sources and flow paths during Mesozoic-Cenozoic metamorphism and deformation. In regions of strike-slip and extensional faulting, the fluid regime to depths of at least 15 kilometers was dominated by convected, chemically evolved meteoric water. In contrast, in thrust faulted regions, the fluid regime was dominated by fluids derived from metamorphic devolatilization reactions. Deep convection of meteoric water implies that fluid pressures are hydrostatic in such systems not lithostatic, as had been commonly assumed. The occurrence of significantly lower fluid pressures would necessitate reevaluation of the manner in which metamorphic phase equilibria and stress relations in the crust are modeled. In addition, this study indicates that mesothermal gold deposits in the Canadian Cordillera are a product of the meteoric water convection process.