Abstract

Porphyry copper deposits, all showing similar geological characteristics, occur in Tertiary and older orogenic volcanic belts around the world. Recent isotope and fluid inclusion studies have shown that in a number of deposits the development of the characteristic ore alteration pattern, at some stage, involved the interaction of meteoric ground waters with saline fluids evolved from a magma. A fluid dynamic model is proposed for porphyry copper emplacement which focuses on the interaction of a buoyant low-salinity magmatic vapor plume with surrounding ground water. As the magmatic vapor rises and cools, high-salinity liquid condenses in a two-phase plume core, drains under gravity, and is diverted to vertical lower salinity stream lines tangential to the two-phase core boundary. Cool ground water is entrained into the rising fluid, giving rise to a buoyant dispersion plume. The potassic core and inner part of the phyllic alteration envelope of the porphyry copper system is regarded, in compliance with isotopic data, as the remnant imprint of the plume on the ground-water regime.

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