Abstract

The Henderson porphyry molybdenum deposit was formed by the superposition of coupled alteration and mineralization events, of varying intensity and size, that were associated with each of at least 11 intrusions. Deposition of molybdenite was accompanied by time-equivalent silicic and potassic alteration. High-temperature alteration and mineralization are spatially and temporally linked to the crystallization of compositionally zoned magma in the apex of stocks. Differences in hydrothermal features associated with each intrusion (e.g., mass of ore, orientation and type of veins, density of veins, and intensity of alteration) correlate with differences in primary igneous features (e.g., composition, texture, morphology, and size). The systematic relations between hydrothermal and magmatic features suggest that primary magma compositions, including volatile contents, largely control the geometry, volume, level of emplacement, and mechanisms of crystallization of stocks. These elements in turn govern the orientations and densities of fractures, which ultimately determine the distribution patterns of hydrothermal alteration and mineralization.Based on primary igneous features, intrusions are grouped into four types, 1 to 4. The first three types define a potassic series of compositions (normarive orthoclase/albite greater than 1) and form a continuum from texturally and compositionally simple intrusions (type 1) to complex intrusions (type 3). Intensity and volume of high-temperature alteration and mineralization associated with a given stock increase from type 1 (2% of total ore) to type 3 (77% of total ore). Complex and strongly mineralizing intrusions (type 3) are separated from one another in time by relatively simple and weakly mineralizing intrusions (type 1). Stocks of type 4, the youngest intrusions, define a sodic series of compositions (normative orthoclase/albite less than 1) and are associated with the waning stages of mineralization.A number of textural features indicate that highly mineralizing type 3 stocks contained high primary concentrations of volatile components, e.g., the presence of unidirectional solidification textures, aplitic rather than aphanitic groundmass, extreme local textural variability, low percentages of phenocrysts in apices, brecciation of apices, and low volumes of dikes. From apex to root zone, textural units within the Seriate stock (type 3), the most productive stock in the deposit, include: (1) a Brain Rock unit with abundant quartz + or - fluorite crenulate layers, (2) a Border unit of generally low but variable phenocryst content (0-25%), (3) a transition zone, 5 to 10 m wide, of unidirectional solidification textures, (4) an Intermediate unit of moderate phenocryst content (25%), (5) another transition zone, 5 to 10 m wide, of unidirectional solidification textures, (6) a Porphyry unit of high phenocryst contents (40%), and (7) a Granite Porphyry or Granite unit. Crystals in layers of unidirectional textures always project toward the interior of the stock and indicate progressive inward solidification of magma along the walls of a chamber. Variations in texture are accompanied by variations in primary composition: the apex of the Seriate stock (the region above the deepest transition zone of unidirectional textures) is enriched in K 2 O and SiO 2 and depleted in Na 2 O, F, Nb, and Y relative to deeper units.Mineralization in the deposit is controlled by moderately outward-dipping concentric veins of both replacement and open-space origin, and by steeply dipping radial veins of replacement origin. Both sets of veins were formed nearly simultaneously about a stock and are focused in a systematic manner on the apex. A classic stockwork of veins occurs only in regions where vein sets associated with spatially separated intrusions overlap. Fluids that filled outward-dipping concentric structures flowed downward and outward from a stock. Fluid pressures in excess of lithostatic pressures, generated during crystallization of magma, were required to open and fill concentric structures. As magma solidified progressively inward, the zone of fluid evolution also migrated downward and inward. With time, the volume of evolved fluids decreased: vein densities decrease from greater than 200/m in the Seriate Brain Rock unit to less than 0.1/m immediately below the last transition zone separating the Seriate Intermediate unit from Seriate Porphyry unit. Crosscutting relations between veins and high-level dikes associated with the Seriate stock establish that most of the ore related to the Seriate stock was deposited prior to solidification of its deepest transition zone of unidirectional solidification textures.The absence of high-temperature veins and associated hydrothermal alteration in deep cores of stocks, the distribution of ore about the high levels of stocks, the orientation of veins about the apex of stocks, and the crosscutting relations between veins and dikes of the same stock are suggestive of initially high concentrations of molybdenum and volatiles in the apex of a stock immediately prior to the onset of significant crystallization. Additional accumulation of ore components, if any, ceased after solidification of the apex. Assignment of molybdenum in the ore shell about the Seriate stock to the volume of solid occupied by the apex of the Seriate stock yields concentration levels in the apical magma of approximately 13,000 ppm Mo.

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