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Lead isotope compositions of Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary igneous rocks and sulfide minerals in Arizona: Implications for the sources of plutons and metals in porphyry copper deposits

Economic Geology

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Abstract

Porphyry copper deposits in Arizona are genetically associated with Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary igneous complexes that consist of older intermediate volcanic rocks and younger intermediate to felsic intrusions. The igneous complexes and their associated porphyry copper deposits were emplaced into an Early Proterozoic basement characterized by different rocks, geologic histories, and isotopic compositions. Lead isotope compositions of the Proterozoic basement rocks define, from northwest to southeast, the Mojave, central Arizona, and southeastern Arizona provinces. Porphyry copper deposits are present in each Pb isotope province. Lead isotope compositions of Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary plutons, together with those of sulfide minerals in porphyry copper deposits and of Proterozoic country rocks, place important constraints on genesis of the magmatic suites and the porphyry copper deposits themselves. The range of age-corrected Pb isotope compositions of plutons in 12 Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary igneous complexes is 206Pb/204Pb = 17.34 to 22.66, 207Pb/204Pb = 15.43 to 15.96, and 208Pb/204Pb = 37.19 to 40.33. These Pb isotope compositions and calculated model Th/U are similar to those of the Proterozoic rocks in which the plutons were emplaced, thereby indicating that Pb in the younger rocks and ore deposits was inherited from the basement rocks and their sources. No Pb isotope differences distinguish Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary igneous complexes that contain large economic porphyry copper deposits from less rich or smaller deposits that have not been considered economic for mining. Lead isotope compositions of Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary plutons and sulfide minerals from 30 metallic mineral districts, furthermore, require that the southeastern Arizona Pb province be divided into two subprovinces. The northern subprovince has generally lower 206Pb/204Pb and higher model Th/U, and the southern subprovince has higher 206Pb/204Pb and lower model Th/U. These Pb isotope differences are inferred to result from differences in their respective post-1.7 Ga magmatic histories. Throughout Arizona, Pb isotope compositions of Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary plutons and associated sulfide minerals are distinct from those of Jurassic plutons and also middle Tertiary igneous rocks and sulfide minerals. These differences most likely reflect changes in tectonic setting and magmatic sources. Within Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary igneous complexes that host economic porphyry copper deposits, there is commonly a decrease in Pb isotope composition from older to younger plutons. This decrease in Pb isotope values with time suggests an increasing involvement of crust with lower U/Pb than average crust in the source(s) of Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary magmas. Lead isotope compositions of the youngest porphyries in the igneous complexes are similar to those in most sulfide minerals within the associated porphyry copper deposit. This Pb isotope similarity argues for a genetic link between them. However, not all Pb in the sulfide minerals in porphyry copper deposits is magmatically derived. Some sulfide minerals, particularly those that are late stage, or distal to the main orebody, or in Proterozoic or Paleozoic rocks, have elevated Pb isotope compositions displaced toward the gross average Pb isotope composition of the local country rocks. The more radiogenic isotopic compositions argue for a contribution of Pb from those rocks at the site of ore deposition. Combining the Pb isotope data with available geochemical, isotopic, and petrologic data suggests derivation of the young porphyry copper-related plutons, most of their Pb, and other metals from a hybridized lower continental crustal source. Because of the likely involvement of subduction-related mantle-derived basaltic magma in the hybridized lower crustal source, an indiscernible mantle contribution is probable in the porphyry magmas. Clearly, in addition

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Lead isotope compositions of Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary igneous rocks and sulfide minerals in Arizona: Implications for the sources of plutons and metals in porphyry copper deposits
Series title:
Economic Geology
Volume
94
Issue:
2
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Economic Geology
First page:
211
Last page:
244