El Salvador, Chile porphyry copper deposit revisited: Geologic and geochronologic framework

International Geology Review
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The Eocene (42 to 41 Ma) El Salvador porphyry copper deposit in the Indio Muerto district, northern Chile (26?? 15??? S Lat.), formerly thought to have formed at the culmination of a 9-m.y. period of episodic magmatism, is shown by new mapping, U-Pb and K-Ar geochronology, and petrologic data to have formed during the younger of two distinct but superposed magmatic events - a Paleocene (???63 to 58 Ma) and an Eocene (44 to 41 Ma) event. In the district, high-K Paleocene volcano-plutonic activity was characterized by a variety of eruptive styles and magmatic compositions, including a collapse caldera associated with explosive rhyolitic magmatism (El Salvador trap-door caldera), a post-collapse rhyolite dome field (Cerro Indio Muerto), and andesitic-trachyandesitic stratovolcanos (Kilo??metro Catorce-Los Amarillos sequence). Precaldera basement faults were reactivated during Paleocene volcanism as part of the collapse margin of the caldera. Beneath Cerro Indio Muerto, where the porphyry Cu deposit subsequently formed, the intersection of two major basement faults and the NNE-striking rotational axis of tilted ignimbrites of the Paleocene El Salvador caldera localized emplacement of post-collapse rhyolite domes and peripheral dikes and sills. Subsequent Eocene rhyolitic and granodioritic-dacitic porphyries intruded ???14 m.y. after cessation of Paleocene magmatism along the same NNE-striking structural belt through Cerro Indio Muerto as did the post-collapse Paleocene rhyolite domes. Eocene plutonism over a 3-m.y. period was contemporaneous with NW-SE-directed shortening associated with regional sinistral transpression along the Sierra Castillo fault, lying ???10 km to the east. Older Eocene rhyolitic porphyries in the Indio Muerto district were emplaced between 44 and 43 Ma, and have a small uneconomic Cu center associated with a porphyry at Old Camp. The oldest granodioritic-dacitic porphyries also were emplaced at ???44 to 43 Ma, but their petrogenetic relation to the rhyolitic porphyries and younger granodioritic-dacitic porphyries in the district is unclear. The main porphyry Cu-Mo-related granodioritic-dacitic stocks in Quebrada Turquesa on Cerro Indio Muerto intruded, cooled, and were mineralized within ???1 m.y. between 42 and 41 Ma. Volumetrically minor late- to post-mineral porphyries are slightly more mafic than earlier granodioritic-dacitic porphyries, a compositional trend possibly repeated on several scales and more than once over the 3-million-year Eocene magmatic history of the Indio Muerto district. This compositional trend requires either addition of basaltic material into an open-system silicic magma chamber or tapping of progressively deeper levels of a vertically zoned magma chamber. Eocene porphyry magmas were more hydrous and their residual source mineralogy richer in garnet than the relatively anhydrous Paleocene rocks, whose source was rich in pyroxene. The presence of inherited zircons in Paleocene and Eocene rocks requires interaction with crustal rocks of Paleozoic and/ or Proterozoic age. Paleocene and Eocene igneous rocks in the Indio Muerto district were emplaced during distinct magmatic-tectonic events that are unrelated, although spatially associated. The district-scale Paleocene and Eocene eruptive styles and geochemical and mineralogic characteristics mimic characteristics of similar-aged igneous rocks throughout northern Chile (20??30??? S Lat. to 27?? S Lat.), attesting to the regional nature of the Paleocene and Eocene events. Porphyry Cu mineralization in the district furthermore is associated not only with an Eocene granodioritic-dacitic (42 to 41 Ma) complex, but also with one of an older Eocene (44 to 43 Ma) rhyolitic porphyry, implying that a long period of precursor magmatism is not required for generation of the El Salvador porphyry Cu-Mo deposit. Rather, the episodic magmatism preceding porphyry Cu mineralization reflects repeated structural localization through time of superimposed h

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title El Salvador, Chile porphyry copper deposit revisited: Geologic and geochronologic framework
Series title International Geology Review
Volume 39
Issue 1
Year Published 1997
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title International Geology Review
First page 22
Last page 54
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