Abstract

Pressure is the most important of the intensive parameters for relating epithermal mineralization to the geologic setting. This paper describes the limitations on pressure (and therefore depth) of mineralization that may reasonably be derived from simple observations of the behavior of fluid inclusions (i.e., the existence of ice or CO 2 clathrate on the liquidus, the amount of expansion or contraction of the bubble as the host inclusion is crushed in oil on the microscope stage, and the freezing and homogenization temperatures for the inclusion). It is based on the reasonable model that mineralization occurs from a hydrostatically pressured NaCl-CO 2 -H 2 O fluid, consistent with the probability that H 2 O and CO 2 are the only gases contributing significantly to the total pressure. The pressure of CO 2 is, of course, a function of CO 2 content, but, from 100 degrees to 300 degrees C, it is a surprisingly minor function of either temperature or salinity. The presence of the clathrate in freezing studies of fluid inclusions indicates pressures of CO 2 that add at least 1 km to the probable depth of inclusion trapping compared to that estimated from CO 2 -free water. Thus undetected (i.e., no clathrates on cooling) CO 2 in fluid inclusions can nonetheless contribute very significantly to the possible depth of epithermal mineralization. On the other hand, the observation that fluid inclusions crushed in oil have bubbles that do not expand (i.e., <1 atm P (sub CO 2 ) at 25 degrees C), demonstrates CO 2 contents that could add at most a few tens of meters to the depth of mineralization.

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