The orientation distribution of dilational fractures is affected by the state of stress around the fractures and by the pressure of the fluid that opened the fractures. Thus, the distribution can be inverted to determine not only the stress but also the pressure condition at the time of vein formation. However, epithermal ore veins that we observe today are the results of a great number of intermittent upwelling of overpressured fluids with different pressures. Here, we define driving pressure index (DPI) as the representative non-dimensionalized fluid pressure for the fluids. We collected the orientations of ∼1000 ore veins in the Hishikari gold mine, which were deposited at around 1 Ma, in southern Kyushu, Japan. It was found that the majority of the veins were deposited under an extensional stress with a NW-SE-trending σ3-axis and a northeasterly-inclined σ1-axis with relatively high stress ratio. The representative driving pressure ratio was ∼0.2. Data sets obtained at different depths in the mine indicated a positive correlation of representative driving pressure ratios with the depths. The correlation suggests repeated formation and break of pressure seals during the mineralization. Our compilation of the Pliocene–Quaternary stress regimes in southern Kyushu, including the result of the present study, suggests that epithermal gold mineralization was associated with distributed extensional deformations in southern Kyushu, and strain localization into an intra-arc rift seems to have terminated the mineralization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes