University of Leicester
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Rapid thermal rejuvenation of high-crystallinity magma linked to porphyry copper deposit formation; evidence from the Koloula Porphyry Prospect, Solomon Islands

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-07, 09:16 authored by S. Tapster, D. J. Condon, J. Naden, S. R. Noble, M. G. Petterson, N. M. W. Roberts, A. D. Saunders, Daniel J. Smith
Magmas containing the components needed to form porphyry copper deposits are relatively common within arcs, yet mineralising events are uncommon within the long-lived magmatic systems that host them. Understanding what causes the transition from barren to productive intrusions is critical to the development of conceptual deposit models. We have constrained the tempo of pre- and syn-mineralisation magmatic events in relationship to the thermal evolution of the plutonic body that underlies one of the world's youngest exposed plutonic–porphyry systems, the Inamumu Zoned Pluton, Koloula Porphyry Prospect, Solomon Islands. High precision ID-TIMS U–Pb dates of texturally and chemically characterised zircons indicate pluton emplacement over <150 kyr was superseded after ca. 50 kyr by two discrete episodes of mineralising porphyritic melt emplacement. Their associated hydrothermal systems initiated within ca. 30 kyrs of each other. Zircon populations within evolved intrusions contain resorbed cores that were recycled from the deeper magmatic system, yet their youngest dates are statistically indistinguishable from those yielded by crystals lacking resorption. Comparisons of Ti-in-zircon proxy temperatures, modelled zircon saturation temperatures and temperature–crystallinity relationships suggest that prior to being heated and emplaced within the shallow level pluton, magmas were stored at depth in a high-crystallinity (>50% crystals) state, past the point of rheological lock-up. We estimate that thermal rejuvenation of the deeper high-crystallinity magma and generation of a mobile melt fraction may have occurred ≤10 kyr before its transport and emplacement within the porphyry environment. The underlying pluton likely cooled and returned to high-crystallinity states prior to subsequent remobilisation-emplacement events. Titanium-in-zircon geothermometry and whole-rock geochemistry suggest pre-mineralisation intrusions were remobilised by mixing of a silicic magma with a high-temperature, less-evolved melt. In contrast, syn-mineralisation melts were most likely remobilised by the percolation of hot volatiles exsolved from contemporaneous less-evolved intrusions cooling beneath the crystalline silicic magma. The evidence for the rapid thermal rejuvenation and long term storage of highly crystalline silicic magmas is consistent with previous studies that indicate two components of exsolved volatiles contribute to ore forming fluids. We conclude that the liberation of crystal-rich porphyry copper deposit forming magmas, and the addition of the chemical components required for ore formation, are intrinsically linked to the volatiles released during the recharge of less-evolved melt into a highly crystalline silicic magma.



Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2016, 442, pp. 206-217

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Geology


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Earth and Planetary Science Letters





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