New Chronology for El Teniente, Chilean Andes, from U-Pb, 40Ar/39Ar, Re-Os, and Fission-Track Dating: Implications for the Evolution of a Supergiant Porphyry Cu-Mo Deposit
Published:January 01, 2005
Victor Maksaev, Francisco Munizaga, Michael McWilliams, Mark Fanning, Ryan Mathur, Joaquin Ruiz, Marcos Zentilli, 2005. "New Chronology for El Teniente, Chilean Andes, from U-Pb, 40Ar/39Ar, Re-Os, and Fission-Track Dating: Implications for the Evolution of a Supergiant Porphyry Cu-Mo Deposit", Andean Metallogeny: New Discoveries, Concepts, and Updates, Richard H. Sillitoe, José Perelló, César E. Vidal
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Combined isotopic dating indicates five episodes of felsic intrusion within the El Teniente orebody: (1) Sewell stock and other quartz diorite-tonalite intrusions of the eastern part crystallized from 6.46 ± 0.11 to 6.11 ± 0.13 Ma (zircon U-Pb); (2) quartz diorite-tonalite, immediately southeast of the orebody, with biotite 40Ar/39Ar plateau ages of 5.63 ± 0.12 and 5.47 ± 0.12 Ma—these ages agree with a hydrothermal overprint on zircons from the intrusions of the previous episode at 5.67 ± 0.19 to 5.48 ± 0.19 Ma (U-Pb); (3) Teniente dacite porphyry crystallized at 5.28 ± 0.10 Ma (zircon U-Pb); (4) a dacite ring dike encircling the Braden pipe crystallized at 4.82 ± 0.09 Ma (zircon U-Pb); and (5) minor dacite intrusions and dikes yielded a biotite 40Ar/39Ar plateau age of 4.58 ± 0.10 Ma, and sericite 40Ar/39Ar plateau ages of 4.56 ± 0.12 to 4.46 ± 0.10 Ma. All these felsic intrusions were emplaced within country rocks of late Miocene according to an apatite fission-track age of 8.9 ± 2.8 Ma for a mafic sill, in accord with previous K-Ar ages of 12.0 ± 0.7 to 6.6 ± 0.4 Ma for volcanic rocks from the district.
Molybdenite Re-Os dating at El Teniente revealed ore deposition at 6.30 ± 0.03, 5.60 ± 0.02, 5.01 to 4.96, 4.89 ± 0.08 to 4.78 ± 0.03, and 4.42 ± 0.02 Ma, concurrent with the five intrusive episodes. The Re-Os system for molybdenite was unaffected by the various hydrothermal episodes. In contrast, the 40Ar/39Ar system of micas was reset by high-temperature (>350°C) fluid circulation and provides only a partial record of the latest history of development of this supergiant ore-forming system; biotite, sericite, and altered whole-rock samples collected throughout the orebody yielded 40 40Ar/39Ar plateau ages ranging from 5.06 ± 0.12 to 4.37 ± 0.10 Ma. These ages reveal a period of hydrothermal activity, which extended either continuously or episodically, for at least 0.69 ± 0.22 m.y. (±2σ) and that comprises a succession of three episodes of ore deposition. Separate hydrothermal episodes are thus interpreted to have lasted <0.69 ± 0.22 m.y.
The Braden breccia pipe in the center of the deposit was formed as a single synmineralization event, probably related in time to the injection of the dacite ring dikes at 4.82 ± 0.09 Ma (zircon U-Pb). It was followed by quartzsericite alteration within and peripheral to, the pipe from 4.81 ± 0.12 to 4.37 ± 0.10 Ma (sericite 40Ar/39Ar).
The successive intrusions of felsic bodies and their respective crystallization processes were immediately followed by genetically related, short-lived episodes of ore deposition, each associated with hydrothermal alteration. This multistage evolution, inferred from systematic dating, was not apparent from previous geochronologic data and is inferred to have contributed to the enormous volume and richness of the El Teniente. Thermal modeling of apatite fission-track data suggests that the porphyry system cooled very rapidly to temperatures below 105° ± 20°C, most likely before the intrusion of a postore hornblende-rich andesitic dike at 3.85 ± 0.18 Ma (hornblende 40Ar/39Ar). This dike cuts the southern part of the El Teniente deposit and marks the end of igneous activity in the orebody.
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Andean Metallogeny: New Discoveries, Concepts, and Updates
A variety of metals and deposit types define the metallogeny of the Andes from Colombia through Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia to Argentina and Chile, although porphyry copper and epithermal gold deposits undoubtedly predominate and will continue to do so. Discoveries over the last 30 yrs or so, predominantly in the central Andes and especially Chile, have been made using routine, field-based geologic and complementary geochemical methods, a situation that is considered unlikely to change radically in the foreseeable future. The only clearcut evolutionary change is the increased number of deposits being discovered beneath pre- and postmineral cover. The predictive capacity of conceptual geology has had minimal impact on the Andean discovery record but is thought to offer much promise for the future. This introductory article selects mineralization styles and relationships as well as some broader metallogenic parameters as simple examples of geologic concepts that may assist exploration. Emphasis is placed on porphyry copper ± molybdenum ± gold and high-, intermediate-, and lowsulfidation epithermal gold ± silver deposits, although reference is also made to several carbonate rock-hosted precious and base metal deposit types and styles as well as subvolcanic tin, volcanogenic massive sulfide, and slate-belt and intrusion-related gold deposits. Particular emphasis is placed on the potential for exceptionally high grade porphyry copper, porphyry gold, epithermal gold, and subvolcanic tin deposits. Deposits resulting from the oxidation, enrichment, and chemical transport of copper and zinc and mechanical transport of gold and silver during supergene weathering are also briefly highlighted.
Si bien la metalogenia de los Andes de Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia y Chile se encuentra definida por una gama de metales y estilos de mineralización, son los depósitos tipo pórfido de cobre y epitermal de oro los que dominan en el presente y continuarán prevaleciendo en el futuro. Los descubrimientos de los últimos 30 años, predominantemente en los Andes centrales y especialmente en Chile, han sido realizados mediante métodos geológicos rutinarios de campo, generalmente complementados satisfactoriamente por métodos geoquímicos. Se estima que esta situación difícilmente experimentará variaciones radicales en un futuro cercano. El único cambio destacable en esta historia evolutiva está dado por el aumento apreciable de descubrimientos de depósitos cubiertos, bajo cobertura pre o postmineral. A nivel andino, la capacidad predictiva de la geología conceptual ha tenido un impacto mínimo en el número total de descubrimientos, aunque se piensa que su uso debiera garantizar buenas perspectivas futuras. El presente artículo