Yulong deposit, East Tibet: A high-sulfidation Cu-Au porphyry copper deposit in the eastern Indo-Asian collision zone
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Hou, ZQ and Xie, YL and Xu, WL and Li, YQ and Zhu, XK and Zaw, K and Beaudoin, G and Rui, ZY and Huang, W and Luobu, C, Yulong deposit, East Tibet: A high-sulfidation Cu-Au porphyry copper deposit in the eastern Indo-Asian collision zone, International Geology Review, 49, (3) pp. 235-258. ISSN 0020-6814 (2007) [Refereed Article]
The Yulong ore body is the largest Cu deposit (6.22 million metric tons [Mt] at 0.99% Cu) in the 300 km long Himalayan porphyry copper belt, and is controlled by major Cenozoic strike-slip faults in the eastern Indo-Asian collision zone. It is associated with a steeply dipping, pipe-like multiphase (42-35 Ma) monzogranitic stock. The host rocks are potassic calc-alkaline or shoshonitic, and show geochemical affinities with adakites. They appear to have been derived from a thickened lower crustal source in East Tibet. The Yulong deposit consists of a ring-shaped, high-grade Cu-Au zone overlying and/or surrounding a porphyry-type Cu-Mo ore body. Cu-Mo mineralization produced a steeply dipping, pipe-like, veinlet-disseminated ore body within the stock. Associated hydrothermal alteration produced K-silicate and quartz-sericite assemblages within the stock, and contemporaneous propylitic alteration in the Upper Triassic sandy-slate wall rock. Fluid inclusion and δ 18O-δD data indicate that the ore-forming fluid was supercritical, and exsolved from a high-level magma chamber at >620°C; it then separated into a hypersaline aqueous liquid and a coexisting low-salinity vapor at 340°-600°C. The high-grade Cu-Au zone (3 Mt at 4.74% Cu, and 4.5 g/t Au) is dominated by a supergene chalcocite-malachite blanket resting on an underlying supergene/hypogene sulfide transition unit and a hypogene pyrite-chalcopyrite sulfide unit. The Cu-Au zone was controlled by a subhorizontal or gently outward dipping breccia horizon developed along the marginal fracture zone near the roof of the stock, produced by hydrothermal brecciation due to regional uplift and/or fluid boiling. Alteration associated with the hypogene Cu-Au mineralization was texture-destructive advanced argillic alteration, characterized by associations of quartz, kaolinite, dickite, endellite, montmorillonite, hydromica, and minor alunite. It mainly developed within the breccia horizons, and partially over-printed the early-formed K-silicate zone and the quartz-sericite zone. Associated mineralization was of the high-sulfidation epithermal-type, characterized by chalcocite, tennantite, covellite, bornite, and minor pyrite, which formed the main ore body in the high-grade Cu-Au zone. Epithermal fluids also caused the dissolution of early-formed sulfides and remobilization of Cu-Mo, the latter transported into the intense advanced argillic alteration halo within the mineralized stock. This late-stage alteration and mineralization is attributed to a CO2-rich, low-temperature (<350°C), low-salinity (<12 wt% NaCl equiv.) meteoric fluid, involving input of magmatic fluid. Based on alteration, mineralization, fluid inclusion and the stable isotopic data, a two-stage genetic history has been reconstructed for the Yulong deposit. It spans (1) a magmatic hydrothermal environment reflecting the emplacement of the monzogranite stock and Cu-Mo introduction through (2) hydrothermal fluid infiltration of breccia zones to epithermal overprinting. Copyright © 2007 by V. H. Winston & Son, Inc. All rights reserved.
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