The Eocene Yulong porphyry copper belt (YPCB) in eastern Tibet contains more than 10 Mt of Cu metal, associated with subvolcanic to volcanic porphyry systems intruding Cenozoic sedimentary basins. Geochemical data analysis shows that all samples belonged to high-K calc-alkaline and shoshonite series with metaluminous–peraluminous characteristics, light rare earth elements and large ion lithophile elements enrichment, high field strength elements depletion, and share geochemical similarities to adakitic rocks. We have established a spatiotemporal evolution framework through geochronological data analysis, combined with calculated bulk zirconium saturation temperature, calculated crustal thickness and geophysical evidence. We identified three magmatic processes triggered by asthenospheric upwelling and thermal erosion of thickened crust: (1) ultrapotassic magma derived from metasomatized mantle; (2) coeval ultrapotassic melt that promoted the partial melting of eroded lower crust and the generation of high-K adakitic felsic melt; high-K and Mg# adakitic fertile magma was formed by interaction between the eroded sulfide-rich juvenile lower crust-derived melt and mantle peridotite; (3) high-K adakitic fertile magma was derived from sulfide-rich juvenile lower crust, triggered by injecting hydrous ultrapotassic magma into thinned lower crust. The difference between deposit size in the north/south section of Yulong belt may be caused by the temperature of magmatic source and the volume of coeval potassic–ultrapotassic magmatism. Our analysis of the YPCB suggests that magmatism after 175 Ma within Intermontane arc complex of the Canadian Cordillera has high potential for porphyry deposits.

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