Element migration of pyrites during ductile deformation of the Yuleken porphyry Cu deposit (NW-China)

Ore Geology Reviews
By: , and 



The strongly deformed Yuleken porphyry Cu deposit (YPCD) occurs in the Kalaxiangar porphyry Cu belt (KPCB), which occupies the central area of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) between the Sawu’er island arc and the Altay Terrane in northern Xinjiang. The YPCD is one of several typical subduction-related deposits in the KPCB, which has undergone syn-collisional and post-collisional metallogenic overprinting. The YPCD is characterized by three pyrite-forming stages, namely a hydrothermal stage A (Py I), a syn-ductile deformation stage B (Py II) characterized by Cu-Au enrichment, and a fracture-filling stage C (Py III). In this study, we conducted systematic petrographic and geochemical studies of pyrites and coexist biotite, which formed during different stages, in order to constrain the physicochemical conditions of the ore formation. Euhedral, fragmented Py I has low Pb and high Te and Se concentration and Ni contents are low with Co/Ni ratios mostly between 1 and 10 (average 9.00). Py I is further characterized by enrichments of Bi, As, Ni, Cu, Te and Se in the core relative to the rim domains. Anhedral round Py II has moderate Co and Ni contents with high Co/Ni ratios >10 (average 95.2), and average contents of 46.5 ppm Pb and 5.80 ppm Te. Py II is further characterized by decreasing Bi, Cu, Pb, Zn, Ag, Te, Mo, Sb and Au contents from the rim to the core domains. Annealed Py III has the lowest Co content of all pyrite types with Co/Ni ratios mostly <0.1 (average 1.33). Furthermore, Py III has average contents of 3.31 ppm Pb, 1.33 ppm Te and 94.6 ppm Se. In addition, Fe does not correlate with Cu and S in the Py I and Py III, while Py II displays a negative correlation between Fe and Cu as well as a positive correlation between Fe and S. Therefore, pyrites which formed during different tectonic regimes also have different chemical compositions. Biotite geothermometer and oxygen fugacity estimates display increasing temperatures and oxygen fugacities from stage A to stage B, while temperature and oxygen fugacities decrease from stage B to stage C. The Co/Ni ratio of pyrite depends discriminates between the different mineralizing stages in the Yuleken porphyry copper deposit: Py II, associated with the deformation stage B and Cu-enrichment, shows higher Co/Ni ratios and enrichments of Pb, Zn, Mo, Te and Sb than the pyrites formed during the other two stages. The Co/Ni ratio of pyrite can not only apply to discriminate the submarine exhalative, magmatic or sedimentary origins for ore deposits but also can distinguish different ore-forming stages in a single porphyry Cu deposit. Thus, Co/Ni ratio of pyrites may act as an important exploration tool to distinguish pyrites from Cu-rich versus barren area. Furthermore, the distribution of Cu, Mo, Pb, Au, Bi, Sb and Zn in the variably deformed pyrite is proportional to the extent of deformation of the pyrites, indicating in accordance with variable physicochemical conditions different element migration behavior during the different stages of deformation and, thus, mineralisation.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Element migration of pyrites during ductile deformation of the Yuleken porphyry Cu deposit (NW-China)
Series title Ore Geology Reviews
DOI 10.1016/j.oregeorev.2017.10.019
Volume 100
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 205
Last page 219
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