, Volume 36, Issue 8, pp 794-798
Date: 01 Mar 2014

Giant versus small porphyry copper deposits of Cenozoic age in northern Chile: adakitic versus normal calc-alkaline magmatism

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Abstract.

Cenozoic magmatic activity in northern Chile led to the formation of two contrasting porphyry copper belts: (1) a Paleocene–Early Eocene belt comprising small porphyry copper deposits (e.g., Lomas Bayas) of normal calc-alkaline affinity; and (2) a Late Eocene–Early Oligocene belt hosting huge porphyry copper deposits (e.g., Chuquicamata) of adakitic affinity. Although the first belt comprises both volcanic and plutonic rocks (andesitic–basaltic and rhyolitic lavas and tuffs, and associated sub-volcanic porphyries and felsic stocks), the latter only includes intrusions (mostly granodioritic types, including porphyry copper deposits). We suggest that the Late Eocene–Early Oligocene belt formed when fast and oblique convergence between the South America and Farallon plates led to flat subduction and direct melting of the subducting plate, hence giving rise to plutonic rocks of adakitic affinity. The absence of volcanism, under prevailing compressional conditions, prevented the escape of SO2 from the adakitic, sulfur-rich, highly oxidized magmas ("closed porphyry system"), which allowed formation of huge mineral deposits. On the contrary, coeval volcanic activity during formation of the Paleocene–Early Eocene calc-alkaline porphyries allowed development of "open systems", hence to outgassing, and therefore, to small mineral deposits.

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