Dzhezkazgan and Associated Sandstone Copper Deposits of the Chu-Sarysu Basin, Central Kazakhstan
Stephen E. Box, Boris Syusyura, Reimar Seltmann, Robert A. Creaser, Alla Dolgopolova, Michael L. Zientek, 2012. "Dzhezkazgan and Associated Sandstone Copper Deposits of the Chu-Sarysu Basin, Central Kazakhstan", Geology and Genesis of Major Copper Deposits and Districts of the World: A Tribute to Richard H. Sillitoe, Jeffrey W. Hedenquist, Michael Harris, Francisco Camus
Download citation file:
Sandstone-hosted copper (sandstone Cu) deposits occur within a 200-km reach of the northern Chu-Sarysu basin of central Kazakhstan (Dzhezkazgan and Zhaman-Aibat deposits, and the Zhilandy group of deposits). The deposits consist of Cu sulfide minerals as intergranular cement and grain replacement in 10 ore-bearing members of sandstone and conglomerate within a 600- to 1,000-m thick Pennsylvanian fluvial red-bed sequence. Copper metal content of the deposits ranges from 22 million metric tons (Mt, Dzehzkazgan) to 0.13 Mt (Karashoshak in the Zhilandy group), with average grades of 0.85 to 1.7% Cu and significant values for silver (Ag) and rhenium (Re). Broader zones of iron reduction (bleaching) of sandstones and conglomerates of the red-bed sequence extend over 10 km beyond each of the deposits along E-NE-trending anticlines, which began to form in the Pennsylvanian. The bleached zones and organic residues within them are remnants of former petroleum fluid accumulations trapped by these anticlines. Deposit sites along these F1 anticlines are localized at and adjacent to the intersections of nearly orthogonal N-NW-trending F2 synclines. These structural lows served to guide the flow of dense ore brines across the petroleum-bearing anticlines, resulting in ore sulfide precipitation where the two fluids mixed. The ore brine was sourced either from the overlying Early Permian lacustrine evaporitic basin, whose depocenter occurs between the major deposits, or from underlying Upper Devonian marine evaporites. Sulfur isotopes indicate biologic reduction of sulfate but do not resolve whether the sulfate was contributed from the brine or from the petroleum fluids. New Re-Os age dates of Cu sulfides from the Dzhezkazgan deposit indicate that mineralization took place between 299 to 309 Ma near the Pennsylvanian-Permian age boundary. At the Dzhezkazgan and some Zhilandy deposits, F2 fold deformation continued after ore deposition. Copper orebodies in Lower Permian shale near the Zhaman-Aibat deposit indicate that at least some of the mineralization there is younger than at Dzhezkazgan, consistent with the Re-Os age and with differences in their ore Pb isotopes.
Figures & Tables
Geology and Genesis of Major Copper Deposits and Districts of the World: A Tribute to Richard H. Sillitoe
It has been recognized for the past century that copper deposits, in common with those of many other metals, are heterogeneously concentrated in Earth’s upper crust, resulting in areally restricted copper provinces that were generated during several discrete metallogenic epochs over time intervals of up to several hundred million years. Various segments of circum-Pacific magmatic arcs, for example, have total contained copper contents that differ by two orders of magnitude. Each metallogenic epoch introduced its own deposit type(s), of which porphyry copper (and related skarn), followed by sediment-hosted stratiform copper and then iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG), are globally preeminent. Nonetheless, genesis of the copper provinces remains somewhat enigmatic and a topic of ongoing debate.
A variety of deposit-scale geometric and geologic features and factors strongly influence the size and/or grade of porphyry copper, sediment-hosted stratiform copper, and/or IOCG deposits. For example, development of major porphyry copper deposits/districts is favored by the presence of clustered alteration-mineralization centers, mafic or massive carbonate host rocks, voluminous magmatic-hydrothermal breccias, low sulfidation-state core zones conducive to copper deposition as bornite ± digenite, hypogene and supergene sulfide enrichment, and mineralized skarn formation, coupled with lack of serious dilution by late, low-grade porphyry intrusions and breccias. Furthermore, the copper endowment of all deposit types undoubtedly benefits from optimization of the ore-forming processes involved.
Tectonic setting also plays a fundamental role in copper metallogeny. Contractional tectonomagmatic belts, created by flat-slab subduction or, less commonly, arc-continent collision and characterized by crustal thickening and high rates of uplift and exhumation, appear to host most large, high-grade hypogene porphyry copper deposits. Such mature arc crust also undergoes mafic magma input during porphyry copper formation. The premier sediment-hosted stratiform copper provinces were formed in cratonic or hinterland extensional sedimentary basins that subsequently underwent tectonic inversion. The IOCG deposits were generated in association with extension/transtension and felsic intrusions, the latter apparently triggered by deep-seated mafic magmas in either intracratonic or subduction settings. The radically different exhumation rates characteristic of these various tectonic settings account well for the secular distribution of copper deposit types, in particular the youthfulness of most porphyry relative to sediment-hosted stratiform and IOCG deposits. Notwithstanding the importance of these deposit-scale geologic, regional tectonic, and erosion-rate criteria for effective copper deposit formation and preservation, they seem inadequate to explain the localization of premier copper provinces, such as the central Andes, southwestern North America, and Central African Copperbelt, in which different deposit types were generated during several discrete epochs. By the same token, the paucity of copper mineralization in some apparently similar geologic settings elsewhere also remains unexplained.
It is proposed here that major copper provinces occur where restricted segments of the lithosphere were predisposed to upper-crustal copper concentration throughout long intervals of Earth history. This predisposition was most likely gained during oxidation and copper introduction by subduction-derived fluids, containing metals and volatiles extracted from hydrated basalts and sediments in downgoing slabs. As a result, superjacent lithospheric mantle and lowermost crust were metasomatized as well as gaining cupriferous sulfide-bearing cumulates during magmatic differentiation—processes that rendered them fertile for tapping during subsequent subduction-or, uncommonly, intraplate extension-related magmatic events to generate porphyry copper and IOCG districts or belts. The fertile lithosphere beneath some accretionary orogens became incorporated during earlier collisional events, commonly during Precambrian times. Relatively oxidized crustal profiles—as opposed to those dominated by reduced, sedimentary material—are also required for effective formation of all major copper deposits. Large sedimentary basins underlain by or adjoining oxidized and potentially copper-anomalous crust and filled initially by immature redbed strata containing magmatic arc-derived detritus provide optimal sites for large-scale, sediment-hosted stratiform copper mineralization. Translithospheric fault zones, acting as giant plumbing systems, commonly played a key role in localizing all types of major copper deposits, districts, and belts. These proposals address the long-debated concept of metal inheritance in terms of the fundamental role played by subduction-metasomatized mantle lithosphere and lowermost crust in global copper metallogeny.