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Chatham, NJ, United States

Vikre P.G.,U.S. Geological Survey | Graybeal F.T.,Exploration Management LLC
Economic Geology

The Santa Cruz porphyry Cu-(Mo) system near Casa Grande, Arizona, includes the Sacaton mine deposits and at least five other concealed, mineralized fault blocks with an estimated minimum resource of 1.5 Gt @ 0.6% Cu. The Late Cretaceous-Paleocene system has been dismembered and rotated by Tertiary extension, partially eroded, and covered by Tertiary-Quaternary basin-fill deposits. The mine and mineralized fault blocks, which form an 11 km (∼7 miles) by 1.6 km (∼1 mile) NE-SW-trending alignment, represent either pieces of one large deposit, several deposits, or pieces of several deposits. The southwestern part of the known system is penetrated by three or more diatremes that consist of heterolithic breccia pipes with basalt and clastic matrices, and subannular tuff ring and maar-fill sedimentary deposits associated with vents. The tephra and maar-fill deposits, which are covered by ∼485 to 910 m (∼1,600-3,000 ft) of basin fill, lie on a mid-Tertiary erosion surface of Middle Proterozoic granite and Late Cretaceous porphyry, which compose most xenoliths in pipes and are the host rocks of the system. Some igneous xenoliths in the pipes contain bornite-chalcopyrite-covellite assemblages with hypogene grades >1 wt % Cu, 0.01 ounces per ton (oz/t) Au, 0.5 oz/t Ag, and small amounts of Mo (<0.01 wt %). These xenoliths were derived from mineralized rocks that have not been encountered in drill holes, and attest to additional, possibly higher-grade deposits within or subjacent to the known system. The geometry, stratigraphy, and temporal relationships of pipes and tephras, interpreted from drill hole spacing and intercepts, multigenerational breccias and matrices, reequilibrated and partially decomposed sulfideoxide mineral assemblages, melted xenoliths, and breccia matrix compositions show that the diatremes formed in repeated stages. Initial pulses of basalt magma fractured granite, porphyry, and other crustal rocks during intrusion, transported multi-sized fragments of these rocks upward, and partially melted small fragments. Rapid decompression of magma induced catastrophic devolatilization that ruptured overlying rocks to the surface, and generated fragment-volatile suspensions that abraded conduits into near-vertical cylindrical structures. Fragments entrained in suspensions were milled and sorted, and ejected as basal surge, pyroclastic deposits, and airfall tephra that built tuff rings around vents and filled vent depressions. Comminuted m- to mm-sized fragments of wall rocks in magma and suspensions that remained in conduits solidified as heterolithic breccias. Subsequent pulses of basalt magma ascended through the same conduits, brecciated older heterolithic breccias, devolatilized, and quenched, leaving two or more generations of nested and mingled heterolithic breccias and internal zones of fluidized fragments. Tephra and maar-fill deposits from later eruptions are composed of more hydrous and oxidized minerals than earlier tephras, reflecting a higher proportion of water in transport fluid which, based on fluid inclusion populations in mineralized xenoliths, was saline water and CO2. The large vertical extent (∼600 m; ∼2,000 ft) of basalt matrix in pipes, near-paleosurface matrix vesiculation, and plastically deformed basalt lapilli indicates that diatreme eruptions were predominantly phreatic. Diatreme xenoliths represent crustal stratigraphy and, as in the Santa Cruz system, provide evidence of concealed mineral resources that can guide exploration drilling through cover. Vectors to the source of bornitedominant xenoliths containing >1% Cu and significant Au and Ag could be determined by refinement of breccia pipe geometries, by reassembly of mineralized fault blocks using modal, chemical, and temporal characteristics of hydrothermal mineral assemblages and fluid inclusions, and by paleodrainage analysis. © 2013 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc. Source

Vikre P.G.,U.S. Geological Survey | Graybeal F.T.,Exploration Management LLC | Fleck R.J.,U.S. Geological Survey | Barton M.D.,University of Arizona | Seedorff E.,University of Arizona
Economic Geology

This investigation of the space-time progression of magmatism and hydrothermal activity in the Patagonia Mountains of southern Arizona is based on field and paragenetic relationships, and on U-Pb and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology of igneous and hydrothermal minerals. The Patagonia Mountains consist of Precambrian, Paleozoic, and Mesozoic sedimentary, granitic, and volcanic rocks, Laramide volcanic rocks, and a core of Laramide intrusions that comprise the Patagonia Mountains batholith. Laramide igneous rocks and adjacent Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks contain significant porphyry Cu-Mo deposits, Mo-Cu breccia pipes, Ag replacement deposits, and numerous other Cu-Pb-Zn-Ag replacement and vein deposits. Ages of igneous and hydrothermal minerals from 20 U-Pb and 52 40Ar/39Ar determinations define four magmatic and magmatic-hydrothermal events that formed the batholith and altered parts of it and adjacent rocks; cumulatively the events span at least 16 m.y., from ~74 to 58 Ma. The oldest event of this succession includes the 74 Ma Washington Camp stock and spatially associated Cu-Pb-Zn-Ag replacement deposits in Paleozoic carbonate rocks of the Washington Camp-Duquesne district. Eruption of 73 to 68 Ma volcanic rocks in the northern part of the range was the next youngest event, which coincides temporally with replacement and vein deposits in Paleozoic carbonate rocks at the Flux mine (~71 Ma). An event at 65 to 62 Ma is marked by emplacement of small-volume quartz monzonite, granodiorite, and diorite intrusions, formation of the Ventura breccia deposit in Jurassic granite at 65 to 64 Ma, and formation of other Pb-Zn-Ag-Cu replacement and vein deposits (~62 Ma; Blue Nose and Morning Glory). The Red Mountain porphyry Cu-Mo system is hosted by ~62 Ma granodiorite and Laramide volcanic rocks (73-68 Ma) at the northern end of the batholith. It includes a deep, chalcopyrite-bornite resource (~60 Ma) that is associated with potassic and sericitic alteration and a near-surface chalcocite-enargite resource (60 Ma) that is associated with advanced, supergene-enriched argillic alteration. The youngest event includes the Sunnyside porphyry Cu-Mo system and a Cu-Mo breccia deposit at Red Hill (Four Metals mine), both of which formed in large-volume quartz monzonite, granodiorite, quartz monzonite porphyry, and quartz feldspar porphyry (~61-59 Ma). Similar to the Red Mountain system, the Sunnyside system consists of a deep chalcopyrite resource that occurs in ~60 to 59 Ma quartz feldspar porphyry, and a near-surface, slightly younger (~59-58 Ma) enargite-chalcocite-tennantite resource that occurs in quartz feldspar porphyry, quartz monzonite porphyry, and Mesozoic rocks. The Red Hill Cu-Mo breccia deposit is hosted by large-volume quartz monzonite, granodiorite, and quartz monzonite porphyry (~61-59 Ma). Discrepancies between field and paragenetic relationships and some analytic ages at Sunnyside and Red Hill preclude precise dating of mineralization stages, and may reflect disturbance of isotope systems by multiple, co-spatial to juxtaposed intrusive and hydrothermal events, and/or by unrecognized intrusions. Numerous vein and replacement deposits at the northern end of the batholith, including the Hardshell Ag resource and the Three R supergene chalcocite resource, are distal deposits of the Sunnyside and Red Mountain systems. Small, ~61 to 59 Ma Cu-Mo deposits in large-volume intrusions in the southern part of the batholith consist of hydrothermal quartz, biotite, K-feldspar, muscovite, chalcopyrite, and molybdenite. The age span of magmatic and magmatic- hydrothermal events in the Patagonia Mountains, minimally 16 m.y., is comparable to that of certain other magmatic-hydrothermal successions that contain porphyry Cu-Mo systems. Magmatic-hydrothermal events of the Wasatch-Oquirrh igneous trend, Utah, and the Boulder batholith, Montana, both span ~17 m.y. and include the Bingham and Butte porphyry Cu-Mo, vein and replacement deposits, respectively. Plutons and mineral deposits in the Pima district, Arizona, which includes the porphyry Cu-Mo deposits at Sierrita-Esperanza, Mission-Pima-San Xavier North, and Twin Buttes, formed over an interval of ~14 m.y. The diversity of igneous and hydrothermal products likely reflects evolutionary processes occurring at multiple sites in the lithosphere and at different time scales from >10 m.y. to less than the geochronologic precision currently achievable. © 2014 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc. Source

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