The Gibraltar Cu-Mo deposit, with a total tonnage of 3.2 million tons (Mt) Cu, is located in the Canadian Cordillera and hosted by the Late Triassic Granite Mountain batholith. The batholith formed through multiple intrusions of tonalitic rocks over a period of ~25 m.y. beginning at 229.2 ± 4.4 Ma in the Quesnel island arc before the accretion of the arc to the North American continent. Late in its evolution, Cu fertile magmas intruded in the center of the batholith, during at least three events from 218.9 ± 3.1 to 205.8 ± 2.1 Ma. The fertile magmas were hotter and more mafic than older barren magmas. They generated magmatic-hydrothermal activity, forming potassic alteration and white mica alteration, and produced Cu mineralization as chalcopyrite-quartz veinlets and disseminated chalcopyrite. Zircon in the Cu-bearing tonalite intrusion (218.9 ± 3.1 Ma) shows high Ce4+/Ce3+ (681 ± 286 [2σ], n =15) compared to those from older barren intrusions (129 ± 56 [2σ], n = 118). Oxidation conditions for parental magmas are calculated using the compositions of zircon and amphibole. The magmas for Cu-bearing intrusions have an average of fayalite-magnetite-quartz buffer (FMQ) +1.7 ± 0.7 (2σ, n = 73), whereas those for older barren intrusions have slightly lower fO2 (avg FMQ +1.3 ± 0.5 [2σ], n = 108), although the values are overlapping for the two.
The bulk rocks of Cu-bearing tonalite intrusions in the Granite Mountain batholith have low Sr/Y ratios (<22) independent of the degrees of alteration. The low ratios are also reflected by low Sr/Y in zircon, suggesting that the low Sr/Y ratios of bulk rocks represent those of unaltered rocks. The values are low compared to those associated with many other porphyry Cu deposits globally. The data suggest that igneous rocks elsewhere with low Sr/Y in bulk rocks may have a potential to host economic Cu deposits. Ratios of Ce/Nd and Ce/Ce* in zircon are positively correlated with the Ce4+/Ce3+ in zircon from the Granite Mountain batholith. Since the former two ratios can be obtained solely from zircon composition, these ratios from detrital zircon may be useful in evaluating the occurrences of oxidized intrusions in regional mineral exploration.