To better understand the factors leading to porphyry Mo mineralization, we studied melt and fluid inclusions in three subeconomically Mo mineralized granites in well-known Mo provinces: the Treasure Mountain dome in the Colorado mineral belt (USA), and the Drammen and Glitrevann granites in the Oslo rift (Norway). Melt and fluid inclusions were investigated in samples ranging from coarsely crystallized whole rocks to euhedral quartz crystals within miarolitic cavities. The major and trace element chemistry of individual inclusions was determined by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Melt inclusions are rhyolitic in composition and record a clear trend of increasing Mo concentrations with increasing degree of melt differentiation as monitored by Cs, extending from ~5 to 10 ppm Mo at 5 ppm Cs to ~17 to 40 ppm Mo at 100 ppm Cs. Coexisting magmatic fluids were single phase, had a salinity of 4 to 6 wt % NaCl equiv and a density of 0.6 to 0.7 g/cm3, and contained ~0.5 wt % S and up to 6 mol % CO2. Molybdenum concentrations in these fluids ranged from ~20 to ~200 ppm Mo, except for some highly evolved fluids that had lower Mo contents.

Comparison of our data with published fluid and melt inclusion data from porphyry Mo deposits, porphyry Cu (Mo, Au) deposits, and barren intrusions reveals that most subduction-related magmas have lower Mo/Cs ratios than within-plate magmas, but that within these two groups there are no systematic differences between barren and productive intrusions. This suggests that the mineralization potential was not primarily controlled by the metal content of the melts and fluids, but rather by other factors such as size of the magma chamber and the efficiency of residual melt and fluid extraction from the magma chamber and their focusing into a small apophysis at its top. Based on our data, it can be calculated that at least several tens of km3 of magma were necessary to form intermediate-sized Mo deposits, and at least several hundred km3 to form giant (≥1 Mt Mo) deposits. All three granites investigated in this study would have been large enough to produce at least an intermediate-sized Mo deposit, but they nevertheless are only subeconomically mineralized. Their low productivity thus appears to be the result of poor fluid focusing. Factors promoting a high degree of fluid focusing include (1) accumulation of major volumes of fractionated, crystal-poor melts at the top of the magma chamber, (2) formation of an apophysis, and (3) development of convection cells, leading to an efficient circulation of these fractionated melts through the apophysis.

You do not currently have access to this article.