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Epithermal deposits in México—Update of current knowledge, and an empirical reclassification

By
Antoni Camprubí
Antoni Camprubí
1
Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus Juriquilla, Carretera 57 km. 15.5, 76023 Santiago de Querétaro, Qro., México
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Tawn Albinson
Tawn Albinson
2
Exploraciones del Altiplano S.A. de C.V., Sinaloa 106–despacho 302, Colonia Roma, 06700 México D.F., México
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Published:
January 01, 2007

Epithermal ore deposits have traditionally been the most economically important in México, with renowned world-class deposits like those in the Pachuca–Real del Monte, Guanajuato, Fresnillo, Taxco, Tayoltita, and Zacatecas districts. Whereas in certain areas (like the Great Basin in Nevada) intermediate and low sulfidation deposits have been found to be mutually exclusive in time and space; in the case of epi thermal deposits in México, the intermediate and low sulfidation types do not appear to be mutually exclusive and, to the contrary, they coexist in the same regions, formed during the same time spans, and even occur together within a single deposit. These deposits are all Tertiary in age, ranging from middle Eocene to early Miocene, with the possible sole exception of a Paleocene deposit. Their space and time distribution follows the evolution of the continental arc volcanism of the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre del Sur. The vast majority of epithermal deposits in México belong to the intermediate (IS) or low (LS) sulfidation types; only a few high sulfidation (HS) deposits have been described in the NW part of the country (e.g., El Sauzal, Mulatos, Santo Niño, La Caridad Antigua, all of them in Sonora and Chihuahua). Because most epithermal deposits in México exhibit composite characteristics of both IS and LS mineralization styles (as well as scarce characteristics of HS), they cannot be simply characterized as IS (polymetallic deposits associated with the most saline brines) or LS deposits (mainly Ag and Au deposits associated with lower salinity brines). Thus, in this paper we propose to use an empirical classification for IS + LS deposits (that is, alkaline/neutral epithermal deposits) into three types of mineralization; namely, A, B, and C. Type A (or IS type) comprises those deposits that generally formed at greater depths from highly saline but unsaturated brines and contain exclusively from top to bottom IS styles of mineralization with a consistent poly-metallic character. Type B (or LS-IS type) comprises those deposits that exhibit dominant LS characteristics but have polymetallic IS roots (Zn-Pb-Cu); this is the most widespread type of epithermal mineralization in México. Types A and B generally exhibit mineralogic and/or fluid inclusion evidence for boiling. Type C (or LS type) comprises those deposits that exhibit only LS styles of mineralization, formed generally by shallow boiling of low salinity fluids, and have relatively high precious metal and low base metal contents. In this paper, we also review other known or attributable aspects of Mexican epithermal deposits, including ore and gangue mineralogy and their evolution in time and space, structure, geothermometry, stable iso topic composition of mineralizing fluids and other components of the deposits, chemistry and sources for mineralizing fluids, and the plausible mechanisms for the mobilization of deep fluid reservoirs and for mineral deposition in the epithermal environment.

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GSA Special Papers

Geology of Me´xico: Celebrating the Centenary of the Geological Society of Me´xico

Susana A. Alaniz-Álvarez
Susana A. Alaniz-Álvarez
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Ángel F. Nieto-Samaniego
Ángel F. Nieto-Samaniego
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Geological Society of America
Volume
422
ISBN print:
9780813724225
Publication date:
January 01, 2007

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