Processes controlling the metal endowment of arc-related porphyry Mo deposits are not well understood. Located in northeastern China, the arc-related Luming porphyry Mo deposit has a proven reserve of 0.75 Mt Mo at an average grade of 0.092 wt % and is characterized by multiple pulses of alteration and mineralization. These features make this deposit an ideal location to investigate the role of multiple pulses of magmatism and fluid release in the evolution and formation of an arc-related porphyry Mo deposit. Molybdenum mineralization at Luming is typically observed as a series of molybdenite-bearing veins hosted within a composite intrusive complex, referred to as the Luming Intrusive Suite. Crosscutting relationships between intrusive units and offset veins indicate that the Luming Intrusive Suite is composed of five major, successive granitic intrusions: the premineralization plutonic biotite monzogranite and monzogranite units, and the synmineralization stock- and dike-like porphyritic monzogranite, granite porphyry, and syenogranite units. Each synmineralization unit is associated with similar vein sequences that comply with the general form of early EB-type biotite veins, through A-type quartz ± biotite and B-type quartz-molybdenite veins, to late D-type quartz-molybdenite ± pyrite ± chalcopyrite, molybdenite, quartz-pyrite ± calcite, and calcite ± clays veins. The intensity and volume of alteration and mineralization within a given synmineralization unit decrease from early- through inter- to late-mineralization units. Although minor Mo mineralization is associated with potassic alteration along B-type veins, the majority of the ore is associated with D-type quartz-molybdenite-pyrite and molybdenite veins rimmed by sericite-chlorite-pyrite alteration, which are primarily hosted in the two premineralization units.
A combination of laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) zircon U-Pb and hydrothermal biotite 40Ar/39Ar studies, together with available isotope dilution-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ID-ICP-MS) molybdenite Re-Os data, has resulted in a substantial reappraisal of the timing of magmatism and its association with molybdenite mineralization at Luming. The volumetrically dominant premineralization intrusive units have indistinguishable zircon U-Pb weighted mean 206Pb/238U ages ranging from 187.5 ± 2.8 to 186.5 ± 3.6 Ma (2σ), whereas the synmineralization units yield weighted mean 206Pb/238U ages from 178.6 ± 2.2 to 175.6 ± 3.0 Ma (2σ). The zircon U-Pb weighted mean 206Pb/238U ages of the synmineralization units are indistinguishable from the mean molybdenite Re-Os model (178.1 ± 2.7; 2σ) and hydrothermal biotite 40Ar/39Ar plateau (174.7 ± 1.1 Ma; 2σ) ages within uncertainty, confirming a genetic link with mineralization. Melt inclusion data show that the synmineralization intrusions were Mo poor, with Mo concentrations <4 ppm.
The data presented here suggest that molybdenite mineralization at Luming was most likely accomplished through three discrete magmatic-hydrothermal events during assembly of the Mo-poor synmineralization intrusive complex. The giant Luming deposit appears to be related to multiple pulses of magmatic-hydrothermal activities, resulting in the superposition of temporally distinct mineralization events. Our results suggest that pulsed release of ore-forming magmas and fluids, which are channeled along focusing structures like small porphyry fingers within a focused area, from a large magma chamber at depth may play a major role in the formation of large to giant porphyry Mo deposits of both the arc-related and Climax types. This conclusion is in line with field observations of a number of large to giant porphyry Mo deposits, which commonly show reversals in magmatic-hydrothermal evolutionary trend and are associated with multiple pulses of small stocks and dikes that are separate in time and space.