Abstract

The mainland Aysen region of Chilean Patagonia (44 degrees 15'-47 degrees 30'S) is a representative segment of the South American active continental margin, distinct with respect to northern and central Chile. Mineralization consists mainly of polymetallic deposits, with important Zn-Pb mines and more recently discovered Au-Ag deposits, unlike the central Andes, which are dominated by Cu mineralization. On a regional scale, rocks may be grouped in four main map units: 1) the Paleozoic metamorphic basement; 2) upper Jurassic-Cretaceous calc-alkaline volcanic and marine sedimentary rocks; 3) the Patagonian batholith, and 4) upper Cretaceous to Miocene basalts and marine and continental sedimentary rocks. The upper Jurassic-Cretaceous rocks and the Patagonian batholith formed in a volcanic arc and back-arc setting superimposed on the Paleozoic metamorphic basement. Based on geographic location and geologic and tectonic setting, ore deposits in this region are assigned to three groups, from south to north: El Faldeo, Fachinal, and El Toqui. The El Faldeo group (south of 47 degrees 05'S) includes upper Jurassic Zn-Pb skarn and associated polymetallic massive sulfide vein deposits locally overprinted by Au-rich epithermal mineralization, hosted by volcanic and sedimentary rocks and/or by rocks of the metamorphic basement. The Fachinal group (46 degrees 05'-47 degrees 05'S) consists of volcanic-hosted lower Cretaceous Au-Ag epithermal deposits, except for the Mina Silva and Manto Rosillo deposits, which are metamorphic basement-hosted Zn-Pb skarns. The El Toqui group (44 degrees 30'-46 degrees 05'S) comprises lower Cretaceous Au-rich Zn-Pb skarns and associated polymetallic veins, as well as Au-Ag-rich epithermal deposits, hosted by volcanic, intrusive, and marine sedimentary rocks. Galena lead isotopic signatures for each deposit group indicate a decreasingly radiogenic trend from south to north, suggesting different lead sources or differences among underlying crust. Three metallogenic provinces and two metallogenic epochs are proposed for the Aysen region: the El Faldeo metallogenic province of Late Jurassic age; and the Fachinal and El Toqui provinces of Early Cretaceous age.

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