La Huifa is a breccia-related Cu-Mo porphyry deposit located in the Andes of central Chile, 3 km northeast of the giant El Teniente porphyry Cu-Mo orebody. It was discovered as part of CODELCO’s (Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile) brownfield exploration activities in the El Teniente district. It is the first major discovery in the area, and this work presents its first detailed geologic description.

The La Huifa orebody is related to a complex of late Miocene diorite and granodiorite intrusions and hydrothermal breccias, the latter characterized by abundant tourmaline-anhydrite cement, emplaced in middle to late Miocene volcanic and subvolcanic rocks. The structural architecture of La Huifa is dominated by WNW-and NE-striking high angle faults. Usually, slip on the WNW-striking faults involves a sinistral component, whereas slip on the NE-striking faults is predominantly dextral. The main hydrothermal breccia body at La Huifa is located at the intersection of WNW- and NE-striking faults.

Four stages are proposed for the tectono-magmatic-hydrothermal evolution of La Huifa:

  1. Premineralization, involving tourmaline-albite veins and sodic calcic alteration emplaced under a transpressive tectonic regime with a subhorizontal, ~E-W–trending σ1 (~N-S–trending σ3);

  2. Early mineralization, involving a polydirectional vein system associated with poorly developed potassic and transitional alteration zones with a scarce presence of Cu and Mo sulfides;

  3. Main mineralization, involving Cu- and Mo-rich anhydrite-tourmaline hydrothermal breccias and polydirectional veins associated with strong chlorite-sericite alteration with a 270° to 290°C emplacement temperature, obtained from chlorite geothermometry. The regional stress field during this period was exceeded by the local fluid pressure. These breccias and veins are followed by the emplacement of NE-striking C and D type veins associated with gray and white sericite alteration, respectively, which show a similar temperature range.

  4. Late mineralization, involving a NE-striking, carbonate-rich vein system containing polymetallic sulfides. It is associated with argillic alteration, whose temperature was 200° to 260°C. This stage occurred under a compressive tectonic regime with NE-trending σ1.

The relatively low temperature at which mineralization was introduced in this deposit (~270°–290°C) and the predominantly vertical fluid flow pattern typical of hydrothermal breccia systems allow us to infer the presence of more mineralized rock at depth, below the recognized portion of the system. The association of Cu and Mo enrichment with chlorite-sericite alteration, instead of higher-temperature potassic or gray sericite alteration events, makes La Huifa a unique case among the porphyry deposits of central Chile and broadens the scope of mineralization styles that could be targeted in this belt. Finally, the intersection of arc-oblique, high-angle faults and, in particular, the presence of fault systems orthogonal to the main compression direction, favorable for magma storage and differentiation and metal concentration, constitute a valuable tool for exploring porphyry Cu deposits in similar geologic contexts.

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