Abstract

Porphyry Cu ± Mo ± Au and some epithermal Au deposits are formed from hydrothermal fluids exsolved from cooling, water-rich, calc-alkaline magmas emplaced in volcanoplutonic arcs above subduction zones. These magmas originate by partial melting of the metasomatized asthenospheric mantle wedge. However, there is increasing evidence for the existence of a suite of porphyry Cu-Au and epithermal Au deposits related to magmas generated after subduction beneath the arc has ceased. Associated magmas tend to be mildly alkaline, relatively sulfur poor, and emplaced as isolated complexes rather than in voluminous volcanoplutonic arcs. They are likely formed by remelting of previously subduction-modified arc lithosphere, triggered by postsubduction lithospheric thickening, lithospheric extension, or mantle lithosphere delamination. Metasomatized mantle lithosphere or hydrous lower crustal cumulates residual from first-stage arc magmatism contain small amounts of chalcophile and siderophile element–rich sulfides, and constitute a fertile source for hydrous, Au-rich, but relatively sulfur-poor magmas during later remelting. The recognition that porphyry Cu-Au and related epithermal Au systems can also form in postsubduction and collisional tectonic settings expands the range of geological environments and geographical terranes that are prospective for such deposits.

You do not currently have access to this article.