Abstract

Pallancata is a world-class intermediate-sulfidation epithermal deposit, hosted by upper Miocene volcanics of the south-central Peruvian Andes in a sinuous N70ºW, ∼75º SW strike-slip structure, with wide (up to 35 m) pull-apart dilation zones related to bends of the vein strike. The structural evolution of the vein from earlier brecciation to later open space infill resembles the Shila Paula district (Chauvet et al. 2006). Fluid inclusion petrography and microthermometry show that ore deposition is related to protracted boiling of very diluted, mainly meteoric fluids, starting at 250–260 ºC, under ∼300 m hydrostatic head. The mineralogical-petrological study reveals a complex sequence of mineralization (eight stages) and mineral reactions consistent with Ag2S enrichment or Sb2S3 depletion, or both, during cooling over the temperature range 250–200 ºC: pyrite, sphalerite, galena, miargyrite, pyrargyrite-proustite, chalcopyrite, polybasite-pearceite, argentite (now acanthite), and Au–Ag alloy (“electrum”). This Ag2S enrichment and Sb2S3 depletion during cooling may be explained by decay of a Ag-rich galena precursor at deeper levels (Pb2S2–AgSbS2 solid solution), which rapidly becomes unstable with decreasing temperature, producing residual (stoichiometric) PbS and more mobile Ag and Sb sulfide phases, which migrated upward and laterally away from the thermal core of the system. The core is still undisclosed by mining works, but the available geochemical evidence (logAg/log Pb ratios decreasing at depth) is consistent with this interpretation, implying a deeper potential resource. Data from sulfide geothermometry, based on mineral equilibria, document the thermal evolution of the system below 200 ºC (stephanite, uytenbogaardtite, jalpaite, stromeyerite, mckinstryite, among others). The end of the most productive stages (3, 4, and 5) is marked by the precipitation of stephanite at temperatures below 197 ± 5 ºC, but precipitation of residual silver continues through the waning stages of the hydrothermal system down to <93.3 ºC (stromeyerite) or in a supergene redistribution (stage 8, acanthite II).

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