Abstract

There are many examples of spatially associated porphyry and epithermal ore deposits; a genetic connection has been suggested for some and argued against for others. Nowhere is this spatial association better demonstrated than in the Mankayan district of northern Luzon, Philippines, where the Lepanto high-sulfidation epithermal Cu-Au deposit is superadjacent to the Far Southeast porphyry Cu-Au orebody; together they contain >3.8 million tons (Mt) Cu and >550 t Au.Quartz diorite porphyry dikes intruded Miocene basement rocks of metavolcanic and volcaniclastic rocks to a 300-m elevation. These intrusions postdate the Pliocene volcanic breccia and dacite porphyry that host much of the epithermal ore. K silicate alteration, consisting of biotite-magnetite and minor K feldspar, is centered on the quartz diorite porphyry. K-Ar ages of the biotite are 1.41 + or - 0.05 Ma (n = 6). Vitreous, anhedral quartz veins are associated with this early alteration and contain vapor-rich and hypersaline liquid inclusions with maximum homogenization temperatures of 450 degrees to 550 degrees C (and 50-55 wt % NaCl equiv salinities). Lithostatic pressure estimates indicate a paleosurface at a > or = 1,500-m elevation. Advanced argillic alteration formed over the top of the porphyry and consists of quartz-alunite, dated at 1.42 + or - 0.08 Ma (n = 5), synchronous with K silicate alteration. The lower limit of extensive quartz-alunite alteration is at a [asymp] 600-m elevation. Similar alteration and a core of leached, silicic alteration extend northwestward >4 km along the basement dacite contact, localized by the Lepanto fault. Chemical and S isotope zoning of alunite along strike indicates progressively lower temperatures away from the porphyry, from 350 degrees to 200 degrees C. K silicate alteration is overprinted by alteration consisting of chlorite plus hematite and/or sericite-illite, with a marginal zone containing pyrophyllite and an outer zone of propylitic alteration. The chlorite-sericite alteration is cut by veins of euhedral quartz that locally fill reopened anhedral quartz veins. The euhedral quartz veins contain anhydrite-white mica-pyrite + or - chalcopyrite + or - bornite and have halos of sericite; illite separated from these halos has ages of 1.30 + or - 0.07 Ma (n = 10). Fluid inclusions provide evidence for boiling on inception of this fracturing event (T h = 350 degrees C, 5 wt % NaCl equiv) and indicate a depth of 1,500 to 2,000 m below the paleowater table. This brittle-fracture event was followed by cooling and dilution of the hydrothermal fluid.The elevation of the enargite Au epithermal ore and its host of silicic alteration increases as the unconformity between the basement and dacite breccia rises from a 700- to 1,200-m elevation with increasing distance from the porphyry. Published data on enargite-hosted fluid inclusions (T h = 295 degrees -200 degrees C, 4-2 wt % NaCl equiv) indicate that the temperature and salinity both decrease with increasing distance from the porphyry. Epithermal ore consists of stage 1 euhedral pyrite-enargite-luzonite, and subsequent stage 2 Au is accompanied by tetrahedrite-chalcopyrite-sphalerite plus telluride and selenide minerals. Anhydrite and barite gangue minerals are followed by late vug-fulling quartz and kandite minerals. The quartz-alunite alteration halo passes outward to "kandite" (kaolinite-nacrite-diclcite) alteration, then to chlorite or montmorillonite, depending on the host rock (basement or dacite, respectively).The dated minerals were also analyzed for their delta 18 O and delta D compositions, and their associated hydrothermal water values were calculated. Water in isotopic equilibrium with biotite averaged +6.3 and -45 per mil, respectively, typical of hypersaline liquid exsolved from felsic magma. The acidic water that deposited the alunite formed when magmatic vapor (+7ppm delta 18 O and -25ppm delta D) was absorbed by local meteoric water (-10ppm delta 18 O and -70ppm delta D) in a proportion of [asymp] 9:1 magmatic to meteoric. Lateral flow to the northwest and progressive mixing with ground water diluted the magmatic component to 1:1 at a distance of 4 km from the porphyry. At the depth of the porphyry, deposit, the later water isotopically stable with sericite was dominantly magmatic (+5.7ppm delta 18 O and -43ppm delta D) in the core. The marginal sericitie alteration (+1.5ppm delta 18 O and -51ppm delta D water values) indicates a maximum 20 to 30 percent component of local meteoric water. Pyrophyllite in both the porphyry and epithermal deposits formed from water with an isotopic composition similar to that which formed the sericitic alteration. The late euhedral quartz veining and sericitic alteration appear to have been associated with the majority of Cu and Au deposition. In addition, mineralogic, paragenetic, isotopic, and fluid inclusion evidence suggests that this water precipitated the enargite and Au within the epithermal deposit.Our results reinforce guidelines for exploration of such deposits. Advanced argillic (quartz-alunite) and K silicate alteration at Lepanto-Far Southeast are coupled in origin and result from vapor and hypersaline liquid separation. Thus, exploration programs for buried porphyry deposits should document carefully the geologic, morphologic, and temporal characteristics of exposed areas of advanced argillic alteration and its origin. Sericitic alteration at Far Southeast is associated with porphyry Cu and Au ore and appears to represent the roots of the main-stage Cu-Au mineralization in the epithermal deposit, hosted by silicic and quartz-alunite alteration that has a lower limit near the top of porphyry Cu-Au ore. In some cases, the sericitic overprint of a porphyry system, particularly where it is related to Cu and Au enrichment, may indicate a potential for nearby epithermal mineralization. Similarly, sericite and/or pyrophyllite underlying or overprinting a zone of hypogene advanced argillic (quartz-alunite) alteration indicates that mineralizing fluid may have ascended to epithermal depths. Epithermal ore at Lepanto-Far Southeast reflects a paleohydrologic regime dominated by lateral fluid flow, with a marked control by intersection of the Lepanto fault and a lithologic unconformity. Recognizing evidence for lateral flow is critical, as paleohydrology controlled the distribution of alteration and mineralization in many high-sulfidation epithermal deposits.

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