Abstract

Iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) and iron oxide-apatite (IOA) deposits are major sources of Fe, Cu, and Au. Magnetite is the modally dominant and commodity mineral in IOA deposits, whereas magnetite and hematite are predominant in IOCG deposits, with copper sulfides being the primary commodity minerals. It is generally accepted that IOCG deposits formed by hydrothermal processes, but there is a lack of consensus for the source of the ore fluid(s). There are multiple competing hypotheses for the formation of IOA deposits, with models that range from purely magmatic to purely hydrothermal. In the Chilean iron belt, the spatial and temporal association of IOCG and IOA deposits has led to the hypothesis that IOA and IOCG deposits are genetically connected, where S-Cu-Au–poor magnetite-dominated IOA deposits represent the stratigraphically deeper levels of S-Cu-Au–rich magnetite- and hematite-dominated IOCG deposits. Here we report minor element and Fe and O stable isotope abundances for magnetite and H stable isotope abundances for actinolite from the Candelaria IOCG deposit and Quince IOA prospect in the Chilean iron belt. Backscattered electron imaging reveals textures of igneous and magmatic-hydrothermal affinities and the exsolution of Mn-rich ilmenite from magnetite in Quince and deep levels of Candelaria (>500 m below the bottom of the open pit). Trace element concentrations in magnetite systematically increase with depth in both deposits and decrease from core to rim within magnetite grains in shallow samples from Candelaria. These results are consistent with a cooling trend for magnetite growth from deep to shallow levels in both systems. Iron isotope compositions of magnetite range from δ56Fe values of 0.11 ± 0.07 to 0.16 ± 0.05‰ for Quince and between 0.16 ± 0.03 and 0.42 ± 0.04‰ for Candelaria. Oxygen isotope compositions of magnetite range from δ18O values of 2.65 ± 0.07 to 3.33 ± 0.07‰ for Quince and between 1.16 ± 0.07 and 7.80 ± 0.07‰ for Candelaria. For cogenetic actinolite, δD values range from –41.7 ± 2.10 to –39.0 ± 2.10‰ for Quince and from –93.9 ± 2.10 to –54.0 ± 2.10‰ for Candelaria, and δ18O values range between 5.89 ± 0.23 and 6.02 ± 0.23‰ for Quince and between 7.50 ± 0.23 and 7.69 ± 0.23‰ for Candelaria. The paired Fe and O isotope compositions of magnetite and the H isotope signature of actinolite fingerprint a magmatic source reservoir for ore fluids at Candelaria and Quince. Temperature estimates from O isotope thermometry and Fe# of actinolite (Fe# = [molar Fe]/([molar Fe] + [molar Mg])) are consistent with high-temperature mineralization (600°–860°C). The reintegrated composition of primary Ti-rich magnetite is consistent with igneous magnetite and supports magmatic conditions for the formation of magnetite in the Quince prospect and the deep portion of the Candelaria deposit. The trace element variations and zonation in magnetite from shallower levels of Candelaria are consistent with magnetite growth from a cooling magmatic-hydrothermal fluid. The combined chemical and textural data are consistent with a combined igneous and magmatic-hydrothermal origin for Quince and Candelaria, where the deeper portion of Candelaria corresponds to a transitional phase between the shallower IOCG deposit and a deeper IOA system analogous to the Quince IOA prospect, providing evidence for a continuum between both deposit types.

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