Mineralogy and mineral geochemistry of the Tuwu porphyry Cu deposit, Eastern Tianshan, NW China: implication for the ore-forming condition and Cu mineralization

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The Tuwu deposit is one of the largest porphyry copper deposits in Eastern Tianshan, NW China. The widespread hydrothermal alteration is associated with porphyries and their wall-rocks in the porphyry deposit can be divided into potassic, chlorite–sericite, phyllic, and propylitic zones. In this study, we conducted a detailed study on the mineralogy of hydrothermal magnetite, mica, and epidote. Magnetite is closely related to the potassic alteration, and evolves from earlier disseminated magnetite (Mt-I) to the later magnetite–quartz ± biotite ± pyrite ± bornite ± chalcopyrite veins (Mt-II). The significant decrease in the Cr2O3 and V2O3 contents of magnetite from early to late period indicates the gradual increase of oxygen fugacity. The crystallization of magnetite supplies enough reduced sulfur that promotes the sulfide precipitation. The dominance of muscovite (Mc-I) in the early phyllic stage and the increasing of phengite muscovite (Mc-II) in the late phyllic stage suggest the evolution of hydrothermal fluid from a high-temperature and acidic environment to a low-temperature and less acidic environment. This process also results in the decrease of sulfide mineral deposition in the late phyllic stage. Epidote from propylitic zones at Tuwu has similar characteristic with the overprinting epidote in the Yandong porphyry Cu systems. Propylitic Ep-I have higher FeO content than Ep-II. The interaction of Fe-rich propylitic epidote with hydrothermal fluid enhanced both Ca2+ activity and pH value, and favored the precipitation of sulfides (e.g., chalcopyrite). In addition, the Fe-rich and less acidic fluids, which derived from the propylitic zones and flow though the sericitic rocks in the phyllic zones, also promote the deposition of Cu mineralization. Our results, combined with previous research on fluid inclusion, isotopes, and mass transfer, suggest that the changes in temperature, oxygen fugacity, and pH caused by the fluid–rock interaction played a critical role for the Cu mineralization at Tuwu.

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We thank Sharlotte Mkhonto at the Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada and Fan Zhang at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee for their help to improve the manuscript. We thank Di Zhang at the Institutions of Earth Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences who helped us with the EMPA analyses. This paper was financially granted by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC0601201).

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Yuan, H., Shen, P., Pan, H. et al. Mineralogy and mineral geochemistry of the Tuwu porphyry Cu deposit, Eastern Tianshan, NW China: implication for the ore-forming condition and Cu mineralization. Arab J Geosci 13, 22 (2020) doi:10.1007/s12517-019-4982-z

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  • Tuwu porphyry Cu deposit
  • Mineralogy
  • Mineral geochemistry
  • Physicochemical condition
  • Mineralization