Abstract

New geochronological data provide evidence for Permo-Triassic low-sulfidation epithermal gold-silver mineralization in the Cordillera Frontal, Argentina. The U-Pb sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) analyses on zircons and titanite gave the following results: (1) andesite and rhyolite volcanic host rocks of the Casposo Au-Ag deposit yielded a range of ages between 267.1 ± 0.7 and 241.7 ± 2.2 Ma; (2) two composite plutons located near Casposo yielded ages of 268.2 ± 1.5 and 265.1 ± 1.5 Ma for the Colorado syenogranite-granite pluton and 266.6 ± 1.4 and 254.0 ± 2.4 Ma for the Casposo granodiorite-tonalite pluton; (3) a trachyandesite dike emplaced at 265.7 ± 1.2 Ma that is crosscut by mineralized quartz-adularia-calcite-gold veins in the Kamila East area; (4) felsite intrusions, interpreted to be temporally related to the emplacement of mineralized veins at 261.1 ± 3.5 Ma; and (5) composite rhyolite/andesite dikes that crosscut all other lithostratigraphic units and mineralized veins at 238.4 ± 1.6 Ma. The 40Ar/39Ar dates on hydrothermal adularia within quartz-adularia-calcite-gold veins of the Casposo deposit revealed at least three, likely discreet, hydro-thermal fluid pulses and associated periods of vein formation during extensional events between 280–274, 262–258, and 250–246 Ma.

Relative and absolute timing of volcanic host rocks, plutons, postmineralization felsic dikes, and gold-bearing veins of the Casposo epithermal vein system suggest the presence of significant Permian (Cisuralian)-Lower Triassic low-sulfidation epithermal-style gold-silver mineralization at the eastern flank of the Cordillera Principal in Argentina. The existence of this epithermal Au-Ag system opens the potential for a significant magmatic-hydrothermal system in a part of the Andes that previously was considered to be of low prospectivity.

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