Abstract

Porphyry copper deposits consist of low-grade stockwork and disseminated sulfide zones that contain characteristic vein generations formed during the evolution of the hydrothermal systems. The present contribution examines the influence of variable CO2 concentrations on the solubility of quartz in single-phase hydrothermal fluids forming stockwork veins in porphyry deposits at temperatures of 150° to 550°C and pressures ranging from 100 to 2,000 bar at concentrations up to 8 mol % CO2. The calculations demonstrate that quartz solubility in hydrothermal fluids decreases with increasing CO2 content. Retrograde quartz solubility is less pronounced in CO2-bearing fluids and is not observed in single-phase fluids having CO2 concentrations exceeding 6 mol %.

Despite the effects of CO2, retrograde quartz solubility plays an important role in the formation of porphyry stockwork veins that contain little or no quartz as a gangue mineral. At high temperatures and lithostatic pressure conditions below 900 bar, early biotite veins can form as a result of quasi-isobaric cooling of single-phase hydrothermal fluids under conditions of retrograde quartz solubility or near-constant quartz solubility. Stock-work veins consisting of molybdenite or hypogene copper sulfide minerals lacking quartz could form at temperatures of up to 450°C under hydrostatic pressures ranging from ~250 to 900 bar. In the presence of CO2, retrograde quartz solubility is shifted toward slightly lower temperatures at constant pressure. At temperatures below ≾375°C, quartz is precipitated during quasi-isobaric cooling irrespective of CO2 content of the hydrothermal fluids, resulting in the formation of late porphyry quartz veins.

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