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Porphyry Deposits

General Description

Hosted by acidic to intermediate intrusives such as granite, granodiorite, tonalite, diorite. Porphyry Cu deposits are generally associated with I-type granitoids magma derived from upper mantle melt Multiple intrusive events are common in areas of porphyry Cu minzn, with the host intrusions being the youngest and most differentiated plutons Usually emplaced passively rather than forcefully ie an extensional rather than compressive regime

Porphyry Hand Specimen

Hydrothermal Alteration


Four alteration zones assoc with porphyries

Potassic zone development of secondary orthoclase-biotitechlorite and minor sericite which replace primary orthoclase, plagioclase and mafic minerals Phyllic zone characterized by development of quartz-sericitepyrite assemblage with minor chlorite, illite & rutile. Sericitization affects feldspars and biotite. This rean releases silica resulting in silicification and quartz production Argillic zone clay minerals dominate. Kaolin dominates near the orebody and montmorillonite further away Propylitic zone always present! Chlorite is the predominant mineral along with pyrite, calcite and epidote. Mafic minerals are partially replaced by chlorite and carbonate, plagioclase may be unaffected. Gradually grades into surrounding rocks up to 1km.


3) 4)

Alteration Halos

Alteration Shell

Hydrotherm al Circulation

Multiple Intrusives

Structural Settings

Youngest Phase of Intrusion

Hypogene Mineralization

Ore can be found in 3 situations

1) 2) 3)

Totally within the host stock (veins) Partially in stock and partially in country rock Totally within the country rock

Orebodies are usually surrounded by a pyrite-rich shell, which occur in concentric zones. Usually a central barren core passing outwards firstly to Mo-rich minzn, then Cu-rich minzn as the main ore shell is encountered. Pyrite gradually increases to form a pyrite-rich halo (10-15%) but with minor chalcopy and Mo. The highest Cu values often occur at the boundary between the potassic and phyllic zones with weak minzn in the propolyitic zones

The Diorite Model

Some porphyries assoc with low silica:alkali ratios and referred to as the diorite model Diorite model deposits have low sulfur conc. in the mineralizing fluids. Consequently not all the iron oxides are converted to pyrite and much remains in chlorite and biotite while excess iron tends to occur as magnetite The phyllic and argillic alteration zones are usually absent so that the potassic zone is surrounded by the propylitic zone Significant amounts of gold occur and Mo and Cu is usually low Gangue material may be devoid of quartz but contain abundant chlorite, epidote and albite

Comparison of the Lowell-Guilbert and Diorite Types of Porphyry Copper Deposits FEATURE LOWELLGUILBERT Quartz Monzonite to Granodiorite (S) DIORITE

Host Pluton Alteration Mineralization Quartz in fractures Common Orthoclase in fractures Magnetite Pyrite in fractures Molybdenite Chalcopyrite/bornite Gold Structure Breccia Stockwork

Qtz. Diorite to Diorite (I)

Potassic, Phyllic, Potassic Argillic,Propylitic Propylitic

Common Common Minor Common Common >3:1 Rare May Occur Important

Erratic Erratic Common Less Common Rare <3:1 Important Rare Important

Characteristics of S & I Type Granites FEATURE S TYPE I TYPE

Gabbro:diorite: granite Na2O (felsic)

Al2O3/Alkalis +CaO

2:18:80 <3.2% >1:1 ilmenite >.706 corundum Sn, W Crustal anatexis of sediments

15:50:35 >3.2% <1:1 magnetite .704-.706 diopside Au Partial melt of mantle

Iron oxide

Normative Assoc. metals Genesis


Most porphyry deposits occur within Mesozoic and Cenozoic orogenic belts associated with either island-arcs and convergent continental margins Some porphyries occur in Paleozoic orogenic belts in Central Asia, Australia and US Few are found in Precambrian rocks due to their low preservation potential (erosion)

Porphyry Cu Locations

Genesis of Porphyry Cu Deposits

A question of magmatic versus meteoric derivation for the mineralizing fluids and the origin of the metals and sulfur Crackle brecciation indicates that at least some of the fluids originated from the pluton. Consists of fractures (brecciation) that have been healed with veinlets to form the stockwork mineralization Brecciation is a result of volume increase in the magma chamber within 0.5-2km of surface caused by continual fractionation of anhydrous minerals and the generation of volatiles and an increase in vapour pressure. If vapour pressure rises above confining pressure, retrograde boiling occurs which may overcome the tensile strength of the rock resulting in expansion and extensive and rapid brecciation Retrograde boiling produces an aqueous phase (hydrothermal fluid) rich in chloride and bisulfide ions which act as an important transport mechanism for base metals and gold Stable isotope data indicate that the potassium silica alteration occurred at 550-700C and derived from primary magmatic fluids. However, fluids from sericites in the phyllic zone are a mix of meteoric and magmatic fluids


Shoshonite association

Tholeiite trend

Where does Cadia fit into the typical porphyry model? Island-arc? Continental arc? Or no arc at all intracontinental? What environment are highly alkaline shoshonites most likely to form?

Porphyry deposits