The Ag-Mn-Pb-Zn vein, replacement, and skarn deposits of Uchucchacua, Peru; studies of structure, mineralogy, metal zoning, Sr isotopes, and fluid inclusions

Economic Geology



Uchucchacua is an Ag-Mn-Pb-Zn vein, replacement, and skarn mineral district in the central Andes of Peru. Host rocks are massive Jumasha Formation shelf limestones of Turonian age that have been folded into an asymmetric northeast-verging anticline of Andean trend. Strata near the fold crest are cut by minor dacitic intrusions and have been displaced by a conjugate set of steep wrench faults that strike northwest-southeast and northeast-southwest. Most ore occurrences are restricted to host rocks that lie below marly limestone at the top of the middle Jumasha Formation. Vein ores located along the fracture system have formed by fissure infill and by replacement of limestone wall rocks. Larger sheetlike replacement orebodies are parallel and adjacent to a large fault. Replacement is in zones of brecciation adjacent to fault bends which were dilatent during sinistral slip of the master fracture. Such fracture belts may have been subject to paleokarst solution processes before mineralization.Four paragenetic stages have been identified. Fe, Mn, and Si were introduced at the exoskarn stage (I) as the anhydrous silicates ferroan tephroite, johannsenite, rhodonite, and bustamite. During the early main stage (II) ferroan tephroite was replaced by friedelite and magnetite under oxidizing conditions at a relatively low pH. Pb, Zn, Fe, Cu, and B were introduced; principal sulfides are pyrrhotite, Fe-rich sphalerite, Mn-rich wurtzite, alabandite, galena, chalcopyrite, and tetrahedrite. Pyrrhotite was replaced by other sulfides during later stage II. Main gangue minerals were calcite, kutnohorite, rhodochrosite, and quartz. Ag, As, and Sb were introduced during the late stage (III) in the form of sulfosalts, principally pyrargyrite. Redistribution of metals introduced at stage II resulted in the growth of Fe-poor sphalerite and alabandite accompanied by calcite gangue. Decreasing Fe contents of alabandite and sphalerite during late stage II and stage III, together with the appearance of pyrite, indicate an increase in sulfur fugacity and/or decrease in temperature over this period. The supergene stage (IV) affects the upper 30 to 150 m of most veins and involves the growth of Mn hydroxides, goethite, orpiment, marcasite, cerussite, and siderite.Distribution patterns of metal ratios and high metal values define ore bands, with a succession of antiforms and synforms. Ore-band locations are determined by vein width, itself a function of wall-rock reactivity, and fracture permeability. Metal ratio distributions in the Luz vein show symmetric dispersion of metals at right angles to the ore-band axis. Ag shows the least dispersion with progressively greater dispersion of Pb and Zn.Geologic considerations indicate mineralization at a minimum depth of 1,600 m. Most primary fluid inclusions in calcite of probable stage II origin were trapped over a temperature range of about 200 degrees to 337 degrees C (hydrostatic pressure) or about 225 degrees to 362 degrees C (lithostatic). Fluid inclusions from late stage II quartz were trapped at about 165 degrees to 205 degrees C (hydrostatic) or 190 degrees to 230 degrees C (lithostatic). Salinity ranged from 0.5 to 29.7 equiv wt percent NaCl-CaCl 2with little relation to temperature. Calcite 87 Sr/ 86 Sr values of 0.70743 to 0.71122 extend well outside the range of values both determined for magmatic rocks of the region and estimated for the host limestones but are probably compatible with older sedimentary rocks of the mine district. Salinity levels and NaCl/CaCl 2 ratios are similar to basinal brines associated with Mississippi Valley-type deposits. It is concluded that basinal brine, expelled from the deforming Mesozoic sequence, was a significant component of the ore fluid. This fluid was probably heated by dacitic magmas or cooling dacitic intrusions; a polygenetic high-salinity magmatic-basinal fluid then rose along existing strike-slip fractures toward the mineralization site where it mixed with heated low-salinity ground water.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The Ag-Mn-Pb-Zn vein, replacement, and skarn deposits of Uchucchacua, Peru; studies of structure, mineralogy, metal zoning, Sr isotopes, and fluid inclusions
Series title Economic Geology
DOI 10.2113/gsecongeo.85.7.1348
Volume 85
Issue 7
Year Published 1990
Language English
Publisher Society of Economic Geologists
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 36 p.
First page 1348
Last page 1383
Country Peru
City Uchucchacua