Climax-type porphyry molybdenum deposits, as defined here, are extremely rare; thirteen deposits are known, all in western North America and ranging in age from Late Cretaceous to mainly Tertiary. They are consistently found in a postsubduction, extensional tectonic setting and are invariably associated with A-type granites that formed after peak activity of a magmatic cycle. The deposits consist of ore shells of quartz-molybdenite stockwork veins that lie above and surrounding the apices of cupola-like, highly evolved, calc-alkaline granite and subvolcanic rhyolite-porphyry bodies. These plutons are invariably enriched in fluorine (commonly >1 percent), rubidium (commonly >500 parts per million), and niobium-tantalum (Nb commonly >50 parts per million). The deposits are relatively high grade (typically 0.1-0.3 percent Mo) and may be very large (typically 100-1,000 million tons). Molybdenum, as MoS2, is the primary commodity in all known deposits.
The effect on surface-water quality owing to natural influx of water or sediment from a Climax-type mineralized area can extend many kilometers downstream from the mineralized area. Waste piles composed of quartz-silica-pyrite altered rocks will likely produce acidic drainage waters. The potential exists for concentrations of fluorine or rare metals in surface water and groundwater to exceed recommended limits for human consumption near both mined and unmined Climax-type deposits.