Abstract

Magmatic sulfides in 97 samples of volcanic and intrusive rocks from the Tertiary Bingham (Cu-Au-Mo) and Tintic (Ag-Pb-Zn-Cu-Au) districts, Utah, were examined to help better understand the fate of magmatic sulfides during intrusion and eruption. Our findings show that shallowly emplaced dikes and sills have erratic but locally high concentrations of sulfides. Volcanic rocks and large porphyry intrusions from these districts typically have at least two orders of magnitude fewer sulfides than the dikes. Sulfide concentrations vary dramatically across these dikes and sills; for example, in one sill in Castro Gulch, Bingham district, sulfide abundance increases from 9 ppm by volume in the center to more than 2,000 ppm near the margin. Chalcophile metals show corresponding changes in abundance. For example, the whole-rock copper content of the sill ranges from 23 ppm in the center to 35 ppm along the margins. The textures of sulfide grains (interpreted to reflect re-crystallization, resorption, and degassing) even in the most sulfide-rich samples, commonly have been modified, suggesting that no sample preserves all of its original magmatic sulfide content. Immiscible liquids of monosulfide solid solution crystallized as pyrrhotite, pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite, or pyrite and chalcopyrite with declining temperature and pressure. These locally recrystallized to pyrite and chalcopyrite or to pyrite and an Fe oxide as they are oxidized. The alteration and preservation textures change from subspherical sulfide blebs near the margins of dikes and sills, to partially altered sulfides farther in, to complete absence of sulfides in the vast majority of intrusions (except where small sulfides are completely enclosed by phenocrysts). Sulfide concentrations appear to vary according to cooling rate and inferred pressure at the time of quenching or crystallization of the matrix. Most of the sulfides along the quenched margins of these dikes and sills are in the matrix. Slower cooling coupled with removal of magmatic volatiles, including sulfurous gases (e.g., H2S, SO2), al-lows the resorption or oxidation of magmatic sulfides to occur during final crystallization of a magma. Together, these processes remove greater than 90 percent of the original endowment of magmatic sulfides. This probably explains the low-magmatic sulfide abundances of slowly cooled, large porphyritic intrusions, and most importantly, allows metals and sulfur to participate in the formation of porphyry deposits. The relative abundances of base metals lost from the center of the sill are similar to the relative abundances of the metals in the Bingham deposit (production and reserves), suggesting that these processes also may have operated at a larger scale.

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