Relationships Between Mineralization And Silicic Volcanism In The Central Andes

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Journal Article: Relationships Between Mineralization And Silicic Volcanism In The Central Andes

Studies of late Tertiary silicic volcanic centres in the Western and Eastern Cordilleras of the Central Andes show that three volcanic environments are appropriate sites for mineralization: (1) ring-fracture extrusions post-dating large calderas; (2) similar extrusions within ignimbrite shields; and (3) isolated, small silicic volcanoes. Subvolcanic tin mineralization in the Eastern Cordillera is located in silicic stocks and associated breccias of Miocene age. The Cerro Rico stock, Potosi, Bolivia, contains tin and silver mineralization and has an intrusion age apparently millions of years younger than that of the associated Kari Kari caldera. Similar age relationships between mineralization and caldera formation have been described from the San Juan province, Colorado. The vein deposits of Chocaya, southern Bolivia, were emplaced in the lower part of an ignimbrite shield, a type of volcanic edifice as yet unrecognized in comparable areas of silicic volcanism. The El Salvador porphyry copper deposit, Chile, is related to silicic stocks which may have been intruded along a caldera ring fracture. Cerro Bonete, Chile, provides a modern example of the volcanic superstructure which may have overlain isolated mineralized stocks and breccia pipes such as that of Salvadora at Llallagua, Bolivia. Existing models for the genesis of porphyry copper deposits suggest that they formed in granodioritic stocks located in the infrastructure of andesitic stratovolcanoes. Sites of porphyry-type subvolcanic tin mineralization in the Eastern Cordillera of Bolivia are distinguished by the absence of such andesitic structures. The surface expression of a typical subvolcanic porphyry tin deposit was probably an extrusive dome of quartz latite porphyry, sometimes related to a larger caldera structure. Evidence from the El Salvador porphyry copper deposit in the Eocene magmatic belt in Chile suggests that it too may be more closely related to a silicic volcanic structure than to an andesitic stratovolcano. The dome of La Soufriere, Guadeloupe is proposed as a modern analog for the surface expression of subvolcanic mineralization processes, the phreatic eruptions there suggesting the formation of hydrothermal breccia bodies in depth. Occurrence of mineralized porphyries, millions of years after caldera formation, does not necessarily indicate that intrusions and mineralization are not genetically related to the sub-caldera pluton, but may be a consequence of the long thermal histories (1-10 million years) of the lowermost parts of large plutons. Caldera formation can only inhibit mineralization by dispersal of ore metals when these are of magmatic origin, and ignimbrites should not be taken as being unlikely to be associated with porphyry mineralization. Whether ore metals are of wall rock or magmatic origin, the key to understanding the relationships between silicic volcanism and mineralization lies in the fractionation of trace elements within large zoned magma chambers during their igneous history, and their subsequent hydrothermal migration. Small, highly mineralized intrusions formed late in a caldera cycle (such as the Cerro Rico) may be due to the introduction of fresh supplies of mafic magma into the lower parts of the main pluton.

P. W. Francis, C. Halls and M. C. W. Baker

Published Journal 
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 1983

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P. W. Francis,C. Halls,M. C. W. Baker. 1983. Relationships Between Mineralization And Silicic Volcanism In The Central Andes. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. (!) .