The petrogenesis of adakites holds important clues to the formation of the continental crust and copper ?? gold porphyry mineralization. However, it remains highly debated as to whether adakites form by slab melting, by partial melting of the lower continental crust, or by fractional crystallization of normal arc magmas. Here, we show that to form adakitic signature, partial melting of a subducting oceanic slab would require high pressure at depths of >50 km, whereas partial melting of the lower continental crust would require the presence of plagioclase and thus shallower depths and additional water. These two types of adakites can be discriminated using geochemical indexes. Compiled data show that adakites from circum-Pacific regions, which have close affinity to subduction of young hot oceanic plate, can be clearly discriminated from adakites from the Dabie Mountains and the Tibetan Plateau, which have been attributed to partial melting of continental crust, in Sr/Y-versus-La/Yb diagram. Given that oceanic crust has copper concentrations about two times higher than those in the continental crust, whereas the high oxygen fugacity in the subduction environment promotes the release of copper during partial melting, slab melting provides the most efficient mechanism to concentrate copper and gold; slab melts would be more than two times greater in copper (and also gold) concentrations than lower continental crust melts and normal arc magmas. Thus, identification of slab melt adakites is important for predicting exploration targets for copper- and gold-porphyry ore deposits. This explains the close association of ridge subduction with large porphyry copper deposits because ridge subduction is the most favorable place for slab melting. ?? 2012 by The University of Chicago.
Additional publication details
Geochemical constraints on adakites of different origins and copper mineralization