Key metals important for the green energy transition concentrate during magmatic-hydrothermal processes. In porphyry deposits, epithermal mineralization can overprint earlier higher-temperature systems. It is not well understood whether mineralization occurs in a single evolving system or forms during pulsed, episodic overprinting events. The timing and duration of fluid flow therefore remain key data gaps in deposit models, but they are essential factors for understanding metal (re)mobilization and concentration processes. Carbonates are common gangue minerals that precipitate during fluid flow and can be dated using the U-Pb method, thereby directly dating hydrothermal processes. Here, 41 new U-Pb dates from a fault-controlled porphyry-epithermal system in Yukon, Canada, reveal a >50 m.y. record of carbonate precipitation between ca. 77 and 19 Ma. Results support a model of pulsed, episodic fluid flow, rather than a single evolving system, where epithermal carbonate precipitation at ca. 74−67 Ma was both coeval with and significantly postdated Cretaceous porphyry-related magmatism. Overprinting events at ca. 62−56 Ma, ca. 51−47 Ma, and younger than 40 Ma were not responsible for primary metal deposition but may have contributed to metal enrichment. Carbonate dates coincide with periods of brecciation and fault slip. Fault movement therefore enabled episodic overprinting by epithermal mineralization, mobilizing and (re)concentrating metals. This comprehensive reconstruction of a long-lived magmatic-hydrothermal system tracks the transition from porphyry to epithermal environments, demonstrating the power of carbonate U-Pb dating for critical minerals research.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.