Abstract

The Porco Ag-Zn-Pb-Sn deposit, a major Ag producer in the 16th century and currently the major Zn producer in Bolivia, consists of a swarm of fissure-filling veins in the newly recognized Porco caldera. The caldera measures 5 km north-south by 3 km east-west and formed in response to the eruption of the 12 Ma crystal-rich dacitic Porco Tuff. Well-defined topographic walls of the caldera are cut in Ordovician and Cretaceous sedimentary rocks. The mineralization is associated with, and is probably genetically related to, the 8.6 Ma Huayna Porco stock (elev 4,528 m); the deposit is part of a system of radial dikes, metal zonation, and alteration mineral patterns centered on the stock. The outflow Porco Tuff to the north underlies the 6 to 9 Ma ash-flow tuffs of the Los Frailes volcanic field.The Porco deposit consists of steeply dipping irregular and curvilinear veins that cut the intracaldera Porco Tuff about 1 km east of the Huayna Porco stock. Major veins are generally less than a meter wide and as much as 2 km long. Most of the veins, especially the most productive ones, together with a small stock, dike, and breccia pipe, are aligned along the structural margin (ring fracture) of the caldera. The ore deposit is zoned around the Huayna Porco stock--cassiterite is generally close to the stock, and base metals, mostly as sphalerite and galena, are farther away, along the ring fracture veins. The primary Ag minerals, chiefly pyragyrite, acanthite, and stephanite, are most abundant in the upper parts of the veins.Fluid inclusions in sphalerite stalactites have homogenization temperatures of about 225 degrees C and salinities of about 8 wt percent NaCl equiv. The stalactites and the presence of sparse vapor-rich inclusions suggest deposition of sphalerite under boiling conditions. Modeling the depth of formation below the water table indicates that the present ground surface is close to the surface that existed at the time of mineralization.

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