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Hydrothermal alteration revealed by apatite luminescence and chemistry: a potential indicator mineral for exploring covered porphyry copper deposits


Bouzari, F and Hart, CJR and Bissig, T and Barker, S, Hydrothermal alteration revealed by apatite luminescence and chemistry: a potential indicator mineral for exploring covered porphyry copper deposits, Economic Geology, 111, (6) pp. 1397-1410. ISSN 0361-0128 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.2113/econgeo.111.6.1397


Apatite is a common resistate mineral occurring in a range of host rocks and ore-related hydrothermal alteration assemblages. Apatite in several porphyry copper deposits in British Columbia has a unique set of physical and compositional characteristics that can be used to evaluate the chemical conditions of magmas that formed the causative intrusions or associated hydrothermal alteration.

Apatite under visible light and SEM shows no notable variations between unaltered and altered varieties but cathodoluminescence reveals significant differences. Apatite in unaltered rocks displays yellow, yellow-brown, and brown luminescence, whereas in K silicate-altered rocks apatite displays a characteristic green luminescence. The green-luminescent apatite replaces yellow- or brown-luminescent apatite and locally overgrows it. Apatite occurring with muscovite (i.e., phyllic)-altered rocks displays characteristic gray luminescence.

The chemistry of apatite, as determined by electron microprobe and laser ICP-MS analyses, directly reflects its alteration and luminescence. The unaltered yellow-luminescent apatite has high concentrations of Mn (0.30.5 wt % MnO) and a high Mn/Fe ratio (>1), whereas the brown-luminescent apatite has low Mn, but higher concentrations of S and REE + Y. The green K silicate alteration-related luminescence is caused by lower Mn/Fe ratios (ca. 1) along with depletions of other trace elements such as Cl, S, and Na. Gray-luminescent apatite occurring with muscovite-altered rocks results from significant Mn loss (<0.15% MnO) contemporaneous with depletion in Na, S, Cl, and REE during low pH phyllic alteration in calc-alkalic porphyry deposits.

The correlation between apatite texture, luminescence, and chemical composition with the type and intensity of porphyry alteration offers a potentially fast and effective method to utilize it as an indicator for porphyry mineralization in a range of exploration materials including soils, regoliths, and heavy mineral concentrates from glacial and fluvial materials.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:apatite, indicator mineral, porphyry, copper, cathodoluminescence
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geochemistry
Research Field:Exploration geochemistry
Objective Division:Mineral Resources (Excl. Energy Resources)
Objective Group:Mineral exploration
Objective Field:Copper ore exploration
UTAS Author:Barker, S (Dr Shaun Barker)
ID Code:130377
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:90
Deposited By:CODES ARC
Deposited On:2019-01-23
Last Modified:2019-03-21
Downloads:97 View Download Statistics

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