The Kapan mining district in the southernmost Lesser Caucasus is one of the few locations along the central Tethyan metallogenic belt where ore-forming processes were associated with magmatic arc growth during Jurassic Tethys subduction along the Eurasian margin. Three ore deposits of the Kapan district were investigated in this study: Centralni West, Centralni East, and Shahumyan. The ore deposits are hosted by Middle Jurassic andesitic to dacitic volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks of tholeiitic to transitional affinities below a late Oxfordian unconformity, which is covered by calc-alkaline to transitional Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous volcanic rocks interlayered with sedimentary rocks.
The mineralization consists of veins, subsidiary stockwork, and partial matrix replacement of breccia host rocks, with chalcopyrite, pyrite, tennantite-tetrahedrite, sphalerite, and galena as the main ore minerals. Centralni West is a dominantly Cu deposit, and its host rocks are altered to chlorite, carbonate, epidote, and sericite. At Centralni East, Au is associated with Cu, and the Shahumyan deposit is enriched in Pb and Zn as well as precious metals. Both deposits contain high-sulfidation mineral assemblages with enargite and luzonite. Dickite, sericite, and diaspore prevail in altered host rocks in the Centralni East deposit. At the Shahumyan deposit, phyllic to argillic alteration with sericite, quartz, pyrite, and dickite is dominant with polymetallic veins, and advanced argillic alteration with quartz-alunite ± kaolinite and dickite is locally developed.
The lead isotope composition of sulfides and alunite (206Pb/204Pb = 18.17–18.32, 207Pb/204Pb = 15.57–15.61, 208Pb/204Pb = 38.17–38.41) indicates a common metal source for the three deposits and suggests that metals were derived from magmatic fluids that were exsolved upon crystallization of Middle Jurassic intrusive rocks or leached from Middle Jurassic country rocks. The δ18O values of hydrothermal quartz (8.3–16.4‰) and the δ34S values of sulfides (2.0–6.5‰) reveal a dominantly magmatic source at all three deposits. Combined oxygen, carbon, and strontium isotope compositions of hydrothermal calcite (δ18O = 7.7–15.4‰, δ13C = −3.4−+0.7‰, 87Sr/86Sr = 0.70537–0.70586) support mixing of magmatic-derived fluids with seawater during the last stages of ore formation at Shahumyan and Centralni West.
40Ar/39Ar dating of hydrothermal muscovite at Centralni West and of magmatic-hydrothermal alunite at Shahumyan yield, respectively, a robust plateau age of 161.78 ± 0.79 Ma and a disturbed plateau age of 156.14 ± 0.79 Ma. Re-Os dating of pyrite from the Centralni East deposit yields an isochron age of 144.7 ± 4.2 Ma and a weighted average age of the model dates of 146.2 ± 3.4 Ma, which are younger than the age of the immediate host rocks. Two different models are offered, depending on the reliability attributed to the disturbed 40Ar/39Ar alunite age and the young Re-Os age. The preferred interpretation is that the Centralni West Cu deposit is a volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit and the Shahumyan and Centralni East deposits are parts of porphyryepithermal systems, with the three deposits being broadly coeval or formed within a short time interval in a nascent magmatic arc setting, before the late Oxfordian. Alternatively, but less likely, the three deposits could represent different mineralization styles successively emplaced during evolution and growth of a magmatic arc during a longer time frame between the Middle and Late Jurassic.