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EconomicGeology

VoL 68, 1973, pp. 799-815

The TopsandBottomsof PorphyryCopperDeposits


RICHARD H. SILLITOE

Abstract

Although it is now widely acceptedthat porphyry copperdepositsconsistof zonally


arranged shells of alteration and mineralization centered on high-level, calc-alkaline
stocks,the nature of their uneconomicupward and downward extensionsremains un-
documented. This paper attempts to characterize these upward and downward ex-
tensionsand to integrate the resulting conceptsinto a hypotheticalmodel for complete
porphyry coppersystems. Examples from Chile, Argentina, and elsewhereare used to
aid in the substantiationof the model. Programs of exploration for porphyry ore de-
positscan clearly benefitfrom the applicationof a modelof this sort.
A typical porphyry copper-bearingstock is inferred to grade downward into stock-
work mineralization and potassiumsilicate alteration in a phaneritic intrusive, which
in turn is transitional downward to an essentially unaltered pluton of considerably
larger dimensionsthan the stock. Porphyry copperdepositsare normally locatedin the
basementbeneatha comagmaticvolcanic pile, which is transectedby a column of hydro-
thermal alteration representingthe upper parts of the porphyry copper system. This
alteration consistsof propylitic and argillic types with localizedpatchesof silicification
and advanced argillic alteration. The volcanic pile is thought to constitute a strato-
volcanowhich possesses large native sulfur depositsand small quantitiesof basemetals,
particularly copper, in sublimatesat high-temperaturefumaroles in the vicinity of its
central vent; these surficial deposits are consideredas the effluent products of active
porphyrycoppersystems.
The availableevidencefavors the emplacement of the tops of typical porphyrycopper
depositsat depthsof 1.5-3 km beneaththe summitsof stratovolcanoes and suggeststhat
entire porphyry copper systemspossessvertical extensionsas great as 8 km.
At Chuquicamata,Chile, a major high-anglefault may have cut the porphyry copper
deposit,and subsequent erosionhas removedthe portion of the depositthat was situated
in the upthrown block. The hydrothermal alteration pattern in the remaining part of
the ore body is incompleteand terminatesabruptly against the fault. The unaltered,
phaneriticgranodiorite,containingminor veins and pegmatiticbodies,in the upthrown
block is interpretedas the root zone of the Chuquicamataporphyry coppersystem.
The lowermost,rMneralizedpart of a porphyry systemis believedto be exposedat
Los Loros, Chile. There a zone of molybdenum-rich and copper-poorpotassiumsilicate
alteration carrying abundantK-feldspar occupiesan area in the interior of a relatively
large plutonof phaneriticgranite.
At Faral16n Negro, northwest Argentina, several small porphyry copper deposits
pierce the infrastructureof a temporallyrelated, andesiticstratovolcano. This unusual
locus of the depositsabove the subvolcanicbasementenablesit to be determinedthat
porphyry copper emplacementwas a late event in the constructionof the stratovolcano,
succeededonly by the formation of minor rhyolite intrusives and "epithermal" veins.
Extensive zones of pyritic alteration including widespreadsilicification, in which
intrusive rocksare virtually absent,are visible in the centersof erodedstratovolcanoes,
as at Cerro Marquez in northern Chile. Such zones are interpreted as the columns
of alterationspanningthe vertical interval betweenporphyry copperdepositsand the
vent areas of uneroded volcanoes. At Cerro Queva in northwest Argentina, lead-
silver mineralizationassociated with advancedargillic alterationis locatedin an altera-
tion zonebeneaththe summitregionsof a stratovolcano.
It may be concludedthat during the final stagesof constructionof stratovolcanoes,
fumarolic and hot-spring activity are the surficial manifestationsof the effiux of metal-
bearing magmatic fluids from magma chambersduring retrograde boiling, the inter-
action of these fluids with the groundwatersystemand the consequentformation of
alteration and mineralization. The proposedmodel implies that porphyry copper
systemseffectivelyspanthe boundarybetweenthe plutonicand volcanicenvironments.

799
800 RiCH/IRD H. SILLiTOE

Introduction their high level of emplacementin the continental


crust, and the large volumesof mineralizing fluids
A R.ATdeal of attentionhas recently been focused
and high temperaturesinvolvedin their generation,it
on patterns of lateral and vertical zoning of altera-
is evidentthat entire porphyry coppersystemsmust
tion and mineralizationin porphyry ore deposits
(Lowell and Gullbert, 1970; Rose, 1970; James, extend downward and especiallyupward for very
considerabledistancesbeyond the parts which are
1971). This work has led to the generalacceptance
likely to be of economicinterest. Even at Kalama-
of many porphyrydepositsas upright cylinderscon-
zoo,Arizona (Lowell, 1968), wherethe mineralized
sistingof coaxiallydistributedzonesof alterationand
mineralization centered on felsic stocks, commonly bodyhasbeentectonicallydisturbedand possesses a
near-horizontal attitude, the complete porphyry
porphyries. The silicate and sulfide zoning com-
prisesa core of potassiumsilicatealterationenvel- coppersystemis not observable.Thereforeit seems
necessaryto combineinformationfrom many areas
oped successively by zonesof sericitic,argillic, and
in orderto attemptto construct
a modelof a porphyry
propyliticalteration. This typical pattern of altera-
system.
tion and mineralizationhas been widely recognized
during studiesof porphyry copperdepositsin the In the first sectionof this paper, a preliminary
Andes,and is particularlywell exemplifiedby the speculativemodel for an idealizedporphyry copper
Los Pelambresdeposit(Fig. 2) in Chile (Sillitoe, systemis advanced,althoughit is not claimedthat
1973). every porphyry-typedevelopmentnecessarilycom-
plieswith all its features.Future studiesof porphyry
Knowledgeof the characterand distributionof
depositsin various parts of the world will un-
alteration-mineralizationis, however, largely com-
doubtedlybe able to clarify or modifysomeof the
fined to the economically
exploitableportionsof moreenigmatic aspects of the model. In the second
porphyryore deposits,whereasthe nature of the sectionof thepaperdescriptions aregivenof localities
uneconomicextensionsof these deposits,both up- in Chile,Argentinaand elsewherethat are thought
ward and downward,remainsundocumented.When to be typicalof variouslevelsin the upwardand
oneconsidersthe hugetonnageof porphyrydeposits, downwardextensionsof porphyrycopperdeposits.

PORPHYRY
STOCK
PHANERITIC
Votc6n ORANODIORITE

,hlJCOi'lq,ui[chlJ.
$KH.(INRLATION
TO
SEA-LEVEL) HYDROTHER14AL.
INTRUSION BRECCIA

Et Queva& LIMESTONE:
HORIZON

CerroMarct ROCK TYPES

Mocna
Los
Pel.
err.
$J-. - tg4SEMENT

Los Loros
ALTERATIO_N
Fortuna Grano- SlLICIFICATION
&
ADVANCED ARGILLIC
diorite,Chua.
uicamata
PRO
PYt.
ITIC
SE:RICITIC
L-3
HORIZONTAL
SCALE (sameas vertical)=
0
,
2
, Kilometers .ot^su.s.c^te:/....'

Fro.1. Idealized
cross
section
of a typical,
simple
porphyry
copper
deposit
showing
itsposition
at theboundary
between
plutonie
andvolcanic
environments.
Vertical
andhorizontal
dimensions
aremeant
tobeonlyapproximate.
TOPS AND BOTTOMS OF PORPHYRY COPPER DEPOSITS 801

This sectiondoesnot purport,however,to vindicate 5o


every aspectof the proposedmodel.
It is dear that a hypotheticalmodel of this sort
will be of considerable value for the discrimination
of zonesof hydrothermalalterationin the searchfor .[ oCHOqUE'LIMPIE'
TICNAMARj
. x
porphyryore deposits.
'CERRO
MARQUEZ

ProposedModel for a Porphyry CopperSystem -20

l 'AUCQULCA
'LVOLCAN
The proposedmodel acceptsthe premisethat
economic concentrations
of copperand molybdenum
in a typicalporphyrycoppersystemoccurin a sub- L.'
volcanicenvironmentassociated with small, high-

J&
CHU(U
/
i
level stocks,and emphasizesthe closeassociation
with subaerial
calc-alkaline
volcanism.It is pro- ./"''CERRO
q.
UEVA
posedthat commonlya porphyrycopper-bearing EL',
stock gradesdownwardinto a pluton of larger LueS,L.V,OOR
dimensions
that may possess
stockworkmineraliza- / FARALLON
NEGRO
";
tion in its upperparts,but that is essentially
un- J CERRO
RICO
mineralized, exceptperhapsfor veinsor pegmatite
bodies,at deeperlevels. It is furtherproposed
that
a porphyrycopperdepositis overlainby a columnof /.OROS
-- > --
pyritic alteration which transectsa calc-alkalinevol-
canicpile, commonlysurmounted by an andesitic LOSPEL,4MBRES 0I I00
I I
500
I
stratovolcanowith native sulfur deposits. This
modelis schematized
in Figure 1.
A surveyof the literatureon porphyrycopperde- !

positsin thecircum-Pacific
andAlpideorogenic belts EL TENIENTE

/C>
oi
I' LOCALITIES DESCRIBED
revealsthat most of the depositswere emplaced IN THE TEXT
withinmucholderand genetically unrelatedforma- 0 LOCALI TIES MENTIONED
IN THE TEXT
tions. In Chile,for example, deposits
are normally
muchyoungerthan their hostrocks(exceptper- i

hapsfor Ticnamarand Mocha;Fig. 2), whichare 70


commonly andesitic
volcanics
of Cretaceous
or Juras-
sicage. It seems,therefore,that the normallocation FIG. 2. Positions of localities in Chile and Argentina
that are referred to in the text.
for theeconomic
portions
of porphyry
oredeposits
is
in rock formations that underlie the coeval volcanic
pile. Hence, overlyingvolcanicformationswould (Fig. 1). In many instances,therefore, porphyry
be expectednormallyto have been completelystocksmay be likened to cupola-likeprojectionson
erodedfromthevicinityof porphyrycoppersystems the upper surfacesof larger plutons,a conceptex-
by the timethat Cu-Momineralizationis exposed.poundedlong ago by Emmons(1927). Stockwork
The instructiveexamplescited belowof economic and disseminatedmineralizedmay extenddownward
depositswith which calc-alkalinevolcanicsare still from the stockinto the upperparts of the subjacent
spatiallyassociated as pluton, but it is thought probablethat it soondies
may thereforebe considered
somewhatatypical. out with depth. Pegmatiticbodiesin the underlying
Manyporphyry
copper
deposits re- plutonsmay result from trapping of aqueousfluid-
aregenetically
lated to porphyritic-texturedstocksthat are com- rich magma fractions,geneticallyrelated to fluids
monlythe hostsfor a significant proportion of the which give rise to porphyry-typemineralizationat
Cu-Mo mineralization.In depth a transitionis higherlevels.
considered to a phaneritic Despite known exceptions,a typical porphyry
to occurfroma porphyritic
rockof similarcomposition.Sucha transition,from
A variation of this model (Fig. 1) is the case where
daciteporphyryto quartzdiorite,hasbeenobserved porphyry copper-bearingstocks do not representthe apical
in drillholeswhichtransecttheEl Tenientedeposit portions of extensive plutons but were intruded into the
(Fig. 2) and hasbeendocumented by Portigliati already solid upper parts of probablygeneticallyrelated, but
slightly earlier, plutons. This case is included in the sub-
(1971). Theposition of thistexturalchangeis also hood cupola model of Sales (1954). Examples include
envisaged as the approximate point at whichthe El Abra, Chile (Fig. 2) (Sillitoe and Neumann, unpub.)
small stockstartsto increasein diameterdownward and the Highland
(White, 1957).
yalley delosit
' '
in BritishColumbia
802 RICHARD H. SILLITOE

copperdepositpossesses a central economicsection data, someof which are includedin the succeeding
characterizedby concentricshellsof potassiumsili- section. The columnof potentiallyeconomicpor-
cate, sericitic,argillic, and propylitic alteration,as phyry-typeCu-Mo mineralizationmay extenddown-
noted previously(Fig. 1). In the deeperparts of ward from its apex for some3 km if the situation
depositspotassiumsilicatealterationtendsto be the at San Manuel-Kalamazoo,Arizona (Lowell and
preponderantalterationtype, and in the basalparts Gullbert, 1970), is typical. Further supportfor a
of depositsmay gradeinto a modifieddeeppotassium vertical extent of this magnitudecomesfrom obser-
silicatealterationtype in whichbiotiteis lesscommon vations at Los Pelambres(Sillitoe, 1973) and E1
and which consists of the assemblagequartz-K- Teniente (Howell and Molloy, 1960) (Fig. 2)
feldspar-sericite-chlorite (LowellandGuilbert,1970). which show that alteration and mineralization have
In an upwarddirectionin a typicaldepositsericitic vertical extents of at least 1.45 and 1.3 km, re-
and argillic alteration take on an increasingim- spectively. At Santa Rita, New Mexico, Nielsen
portanceat the expenseof potassiumsilicatealtera- (1968) suggestedthat the porphyrycopperdeposit
tion. At this point, near to the upper limit of was emplacedbeneatha cover of not greater than
economichypogenemineralization,intrusive bodies 0.5 km of older rocks. It is here contended,how-
are likely to be smaller and less regular, and large ever, that this figure merely representsthe depth
areas are likely to be occupiedby hydrothermal beneaththe top of the subvolcanicbasement,and in
breccias('Fig. 1). this context it has been used in the construction of
Upward in manysystems, but perhapsnot in all, a Figure 1.2 Since stratovolcanoes in the Andes have
comagrnaticvolcanicsuperstructureis encountered, heightsof 1,000-2,500m abovethe underlyingbase-
in which alteration tends to possessa less regular ment,the apicesof the columnsof Cu-Mo mineraliza-
distributionand to consistof propyliticand argillic tion, commonlyassociatedwith sericiticalteration,
alteration, with areas of intense silicificationand were most probablyformed at approximately1.5-3
advancedargillic alteration; these two alteration km beneath the summits of stratovolcanoes. This
typesperhapsreflectareaspreferredby ascending figure might be somewhatreducedif a depositwas
hydrothermalfluids. This proposalconformswith eraplacedeccentricallywith respectto the principal
that of Hemley et al. (1969) who showedthat volcaniccone,or if the magma from which the cone
sericiticalteration is likely to pass upward into was constructed was less viscous than the andesire
advancedargillic alteration. Pyrite is ubiquitous consideredhere, so reducingthe height of the cone.
and other sulfides,with the possibleexceptionof This estimate is in accord with evidence derived
mamasite,are uncommon. Intrusive rocks are rare from studiesof fluid inclusionsthat is interpreted to
in these overlying volcanicsand are restricted to showthat potassiumsilicatealterationat Bingham,
dikelike bodies,althoughhydrothermalbrecciasmay Utah, took place beneath a cover 4.3 km thick
still be widespread. (Roedder, 1971). Therefore, from the available
"Epithermal"copper,lead,zinc,andprecious metal evidence, it would seem reasonableto estimate that
veins and replacements are considerednot only to a complete,unerodedporphyrycoppersystemcould
represent thefringeproducts of mineralizationin the have a vertical extent of 4-6 km, and perhapsnearer
propylitic-alteredparts of an economicdeposit 8 km if the upper part of the underlyingphaneritic
(LowellandGullbert,1970), but alsoto accomvany intrusiveis included(Fig. 1).
advanced argillicalteration,silicification,
or propylitic
Evidence Bearing on the Tops and Bottoms
alteration in the supradjacentvolcanic ediface
of Porphyry CopperDeposits
(Fig. 1).
It is inferred that the tops of porphyry copper Regionalgeneralizations
systemsare characterized by depositsof native sul- In Chile and adjacentArgentina,longitudinalbelts
fur, perhapsaccompanied by pyriteor marcasite, and of post-Paleozoicbatholiths, stocks,and porphyry
while the systemis still active,by high-temperature copper depositsyoung eastward from the Pacific
fumaroles;thesemay be consideredas the effluent coastand are geometricallycomparable with beltsof
productsof porphyrycopperformationin depth. Pliocene and more recent andesitic volcanoes in the
The stratovolcano abovea pomhyry copperdeposit high Andes (Sillitoe, 1972a). Porphyrycopperde-
need not be a simplecone (Fig. 1), but may be positsand prospects are uncommon in the batholithic
multiplein characterand includethe development
of
domesand collapsecalderas,perhapsresurgent. 2 Failure to recognize that many porphyry devositswere
originally overlain by penecontemporaneous volcanic piles
In Figure 1 an attempthasbeenmadeto quantify may provide an explanation for the very shallow depths of
the vertical dimensionsof a porphyry copper sys- formation that have been proposed for some porphyry
copver depositslocated in regions, such as the southwestern
tem, althoughthe depthsgiven shouldbe treated United States, where the volcanicshave been largely lost
onlyas approximations
basedon currentlyavailable by erosion.
TOPS .,'IND BOTTOMS OF PORPHYRY COPPER DEPOSITS 803

+ + + + + + + + + .................
+ + + + + + + + +,+ + + + +KEE '::':':::::' .... 9-.. + + + +
+ + + + + + + + + ' + + +,,w-f-H- . .............. ::.': ', .,t"et +
+ + + + + + + + + + + + /. : ::::: ......... I ''.-'T-L,,J++
+ + + + ++ ++ + + + + + + + + +/+ + + +7.Egg:[::l;
/ + + + -i---
/' ...........
t'::
::::'::::1:
::: ............
I. +
+ + + + + + + + +,+ + + + t ........ ::::::::::::f
+ + + + + + + + -J + + + 'if-F/a;',q.'l : ::::::: ......... I 'h T
+ + + + + + + + +'+ + + +,=,-,-,-,-,-,-,-,'fl
t............ :::::::::, I++++
+ + + + + + + + ! + + +,'l-jtt+ t : :::: ........... [ - - +
+ + + + + + + + +l.+,.r_,,&. - fit': .......... :::::::::::. -ff * '
+ + + + + + + + -.,s-;:.. :::: ............ I K[i-
+ + +
+ + + + + + + + +l"J-ldffdd-t-' :: .......... :::::::: : ;, l + + ++
++++++++
........
+ + + + + + + +
+ + + + + + + +
........ J[JjJ !i,
i ;'.:.:
:...':.:::
,..,...'..' : ':::::'":-...-
- ...............
z*' ...................
,
.........................

q : ...................
i i !::::::::::.: --
'.++++++
++ '::.: t

#+
+ + +

+ + + + + + + + t. .................. :.:'t + + ++
+ + + + + + + + .... :::::::::::::::::::::: +++++
+ + + + + + + t: 2............. t ,- + + + +
+ + + + + + + + ............ :;':::;::::::t + + + + +
+ + + + 4- 4- 4- 4- ;':::::::'::: ::::.'::'/ ,Y + + + + +
+ + + +-+-+-+- : ................... :1 + + + + + +
++++
+
+ + +
+++.
+ +
+ + + + +
i... ::2: ...............
:::::::::::::::::::::::::: I
t ...... ..............
:t
J+ + + + + +
,[o +. + + + ++ ++ +
++++++++++++[
+
:::.::'.::i::::
...
t.:::: ......................... l
! ./g++++++++ ++
+ + + + + + +
+
+ + ++ +,
+ + + ,,+
+I , :::::::::::::::::::::::
: ...................
........ ,, .tf? ....
,_
+ +
++ ++ ++ * + .+ {%.+lt......... ::. ..............
t................... :::::: ::::::t + + + + + + + +
rr+++++++++
+ + +-+-+-+ .:: :
...........
......................
:: ...........
+ + + + + ++ + + +
+ + + + +
+ + + + + + ......... .......... + + + + + +
............. ....... + + + + + + +
++++++++++C++
:::::::::: ....... :':::::' ,{++++ + + + ++ ++ +
+ + + + +
.... ..............
+:I.."':::
............... :::::: ",;
+ .......... : : : .......
. ...... . + + + + +
;++++..... +
+ + + q- +-,. + ............. ',; a- q- + q- q- +. + +
+ + + + -+ + .............
....................
: :...-t

r+ + + + + + + + + + + +
++ +
=============================
+ + + + + + ......................
:::::: :?
.
+ + + + + + ++ ++ +
+ + + + + +
+
++ ++ ++ ++ (O+
+ +
: ++ ++ ++.++ ++ + ++ ++ +
+ + + + + + + +
++
++++++++
+++ ' iiiiiii!iiiiiii!iiiii:
+++++++++++++. ..................... f -- + ++
+ ++
+ ++
+ ++
+ ++
+ ++
+ ++ ++
+ ++++
+++ + + + + + + + + + + +
++++ + + + + + + + + + + +
+ + .................. + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ + + ..................... + + + -+ + + + + + + +
+ + + + + + + + + + +
+++++++ +
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+

+++++++(+ ..........
: : : ............
++ O
+ +
meters500 i i i

+++++++[i.++ ........: ............. + +++


++++ :::: + + +
::::::::::: .......... +

++++++++++
++++
LEGEND-
+++++++++, .
++++++++
+ + + +
!.......

++++++++
Fresh
granodiorite
+J-'
+++++ ..................
...........::? Propylitic
alteration
J
Probable
argil[ic
alteration

Sericitic alteration
.........
2::::::::

+
+++++
+ + + + siticification
i
:.'
.-"
--+++++++++++++
+ +++++++++++++
++++++++
++++++++
+++++++

+++++++++++
autt,
showing
ownthrow sid

Fro. 3. The West Fissure and hydrothermalalteration pattern


at Chuquicamata,Chile, taken mainly from Taylor (1935). The
unshadedarea betweenthe sericiticand propylitic alteration zones
probably cor.responds largely to argillic alteration: it was termed
"normal rock" by Taylor and is describedas having less intense
sericitic alteration and retaining its magmatictexture.

belt adjacentto the coastwheremostdeposits


are 'Furthermore, the distributions and aerial extents
assumed
to havebeenremovedby erosion.Economic of Chileanporphyrycopperdeposits
andprospects
in
deposits
are considered
to havebeenexhumed
only the belts of stocks and of alteration zones associated
locally from beneath the belt of recent volcanoes. with stratovolcanoes in the recent volcanic belt bear
North-southbelts of stocksof intermediateage, a strongmutual resemblance.
situated between the batholiths in the west and the
volcanoes in the east, where erosionlevelsmay Bottomof a porphyrycoppersystem
generally be said to be intermediate between the Chuquicamata,Chile: At Chuquicamata (Fig. 2),
easternand westernextremes,hostthe majority of the bottompart of a porphyrycoppersystemis be-
theporphyrycopperdeposits, includingall the major lievedto havebeenexposedas a resultof high-angle
ore bodies.
faulting, the present ore body representingthe
804 RICHARD H. SILLITOE

/",11ii,
,.. I Fresh
granodiorite
I+'+1
;; I I ',11',.
/
ff';;lll',J,
' '.<..<'.':':-Z'.
.. Propylitic
atterabon
!-H-t+H
,/'.'.'-':':':':':':':':':J
Argittc
alteration
_/ ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
.t :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Sericiticatteration
_hl
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
andsiticJfication
fiii!i!ii!:.iJ
i,'Z'Z.X.:.X-Z.Z.:.
:ii:':':-:-:':.:-:.:.:-:.:-:-
1 PotassiumSiLicate

:t
:::::::::::::::::::::::::
atteration
I;

r:.;.:.2.x.:.2.;-x.2-2-2.


::::::::::?;1-
r:.:-:-:-:.:
KK L. -
:I:I:[
rt
1:':':'.7+
K +El..,.,
[-2:/ < < :':':':'.,
i +
i \i; + I':':':':':'X
i' +.. +li:i:i:!:i:!:i:::
+
H./K
_qi"+K r+ K[::::::::::::::::h
:"'"'"'"'""'
-
w,. ':
.:.:.:.:.:-:.:.:.:.!,
+
++ ;
K r.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.-.-.
[.....................
/ -!'- _ 4-'.'.'.'-'.'-'.'.'.'-'-'
- -E:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:il -F
"'
--I-
SURFACE

-'11'- ........ '/J

-+- .,:':':.:.:.:.:-:.:.]
FORTUNA ' MINERALISED
xELENA
GRANODIORITE PORPHYRIES GRANODIORITE
TOPS AND BOTTOMS OF PORPHYRY COPPER DEPOSITS 805

survivingportionof the originalporphyrycopper the ore body,Perry (1952) noteda zoneof argillic
deposit. Despitethe fact that only a part of the alteration separatingthe sericitic and propylitic
original ore bodynow remains,Chuquicamatais one alterationtypes,and at surfacethe day contentof the
of thelargestof the world'sporphyrycopperdeposits. rock increasesas the propyliticzoneis approached.
An elongatestock consistingof several distinct, The West Fissure is a major fault, marked by
but closelyrelated, porphyriesof probablegrano- crushand gougezones,which attains a width of 150
dioriticcomposition is hostto the Chuquicamata
ore m, is near-vertical,but dips 80 to the west at the
body, which occupiesan area some 3 x 1.5 km southernend of the ore body and dips steeplyeast-
(Perry, 1952). To the east,the porphyriesappear ward at its northernend (Perry, 1952). The fault
to grade into an equigranulargranodiorite(Elena and its extensions can be traced for tens of kilometers
granodiorite),althoughthe precisesignificance
of the both north and southof the ore body.
contact relations is uncertain. To the west, the ore It has been repeatedly but erroneouslystated
body is abruptly terminatedby a major fault, the (Taylor, 1935; L6pez, 1939; Jarrell, 1944) that the
West Fissure, beyondwhich outcropsthe Fortuna mineralizing fluids ascendedthe West Fissure and
granodiorite,in whichporphyrycopper-type min- subsequently spreadout eastwardalonga stockwork
eralizationis absent(Taylor, 1935; 'Figs.3 and 4). of fractures to give rise to the observedzonation
Recent K-Ar dating (Quirt et al., 1971)a has of alteration. However, drag sulfidesin the West
resulted in apparent ages of 36.9--+0.6 m.y. for Fissuretestifyto importantmovementalongit sub-
the Fortuna granodioriteand 29.2-----0.5m.y. for sequentto the emplacementof the Chuquicamataore
hydrothermalsericitefrom the ore body. Ruiz et al. body (Perry, 1952). Althoughthe fault was prob-
(1965) gavea slightlyyoungerK-Ar age of 35 m.y. ably active prior to mineralization,and may even
for the Fortuna granodiorite. A much older age is have helped to control the general location of the
indicatedby geologiccharacteristics for the Elena ore body in the upper crust, it is most unlikely that
granodiorite. it acted as a conduit for hydrothermalfluids at the
In the Chuquicamataore bodythere is evidenceof presently observed level, an interpretation that
an early phaseof potassiumsilicatealterationrepre- would be at oddswith current ideason the genesis
sentedby veinlets of quartz and K-feldspar with of porphyryore deposits.
minor chalcopyrite(Jarrell, 1944; Perry, 1952). To the west of the West Fissure the 'Fortuna
This alterationtype has beenlargely obliteratedby granodioriteis part of a normal epizonalpluton
the superimpositionof later feldspar-destructivewhich extends at least 8 km south and 12 km north
alteration. Adjoining and roughly parallel to the of Chuquicamata.Pegmatiticpatches,severalmeters
West 'Fissurepervasivesericiticalterationand in- across,composed of quartz,K-feldspar,biotite,and
cludedpatchesof silicification,in which sericiteis pyrite, were observedlocallyin the Fortuna grano-
presentin smallamounts,occupya belt some3.5 km diorite near the ore body. In addition to these
long and averaging0.5 km in width (Taylor, 1935; pegmatiticpatches,there are a few copper-bearing
L6pez, 1939) (Figs. 3 and 4). Abundantpyrite quartz-tourmalineveins and veinlets and a small
accompanied by enargite,lesserchalcopyrite, chalco- stockworkof oxidizedcoppermineralsand limonite
cite, and molybdeniteare hypogenecomponents of whichcontainsa little postmagmatic biotite.
the sericiticalterationand providethe highestgrade It is apparentfrom Figure 3 that a complete,bi-
hypogeneore, althougha bandof lower gradealtered laterallysymmetrical patternof hydrothermalaltera-
rock is in contact with the West Fissure. The serici-
tion doesnot exist at Chuquicamata,the normal se-
tic alterationgradeseastwardinto propylitic altera- quenceof alterationtypes occurringonly as N10
tion (Taylor, 1935; L6pez, 1939; Perry, 1952) E-trendingbeltsto the eastof the West Fissureand
(Figs. 3 and4), characterized by albite,chlorite,and terminating against it. This clearly demonstrates
specularire, whichgivesway further eastwardin the that the ore body has beenbisectedby displacement
Elena granodioriteto a zone carrying abundant alongthe West Fissureand that the westernportion
epidote(L6pez,1939). In a drainage tunnelbeneath of the ore body was moved either laterally or
a Radiometricdating of samplescollectedby the writer, vertically and subsequently erodedaway.
with the assistanceof H. Neumann, from Chilean porphyry The available evidence favors essentiallyvertical
copperdepositswas carried out by S. Quirt and E. Farrar
of Queen's University, Canada. displacement on the West Fissure duringthe Ceno-
Fro. 4. A generalizedeast-westsectionacrossthe middle of the Chuquicamatadepositto show
the geologicrelationsand alteration pattern. A hypotheticalreconstructionof the ore body is at-
temptedabovethe presentground sur.face to show the characteristicsat the point in time when
faulting had terminatedbut erosionhad not yet commenced. (This makes the assumptionthat
faulting occurredas a singledisplacement, which was almostcertainlynot the case). It is assumed
that the superimpositionof sericiticon potassiumsilicate
alterationat Chuquicamata has resultedin
a predominanceof the former.
806 RICHARD H. SILLITOE

zoic,with upthrowof the westernblock. Hence,the locatedwithin a compositeplutonthat intrudedthe


westernpart of the ore body has beendestroyedby downfaultedaxial zone of a NNW-trending syncline
erosionto revealthe underlyingphaneriticintrusive composed, in the immediatevicinityof the pluton,
--the Fortuna granodiorite ('Fig. 4). With refer- of Lower Cretaceous sedimentary and volcanicrocks
ence to Figure 1, it can be estimatedthat such a (Aguirre and Egert, 1970). The composite pluton
processnecessitates a fault displacementof some3- is part of the coastalbatholithof Chile. Alteration
3.5 km sincethe ore bodywas formedsome30 m.y. and mineralizationare geneticallyrelated to the
ago. A displacement of this magnitudeis consistent innermostand youngestpart of the composite pluton
with both the width and regionalextent of the West --a body of medium-grained,phaneritic-textured
Fissure and its extensions to the north and south. granite (sensustricto), which is madeup of quartz,
Miocene alluvial gravels immediatelysouth of the K-feldspar, oligoclase,biotite, and small quantities
Chuquicamata ore bodyand eastof the West Fissure of hornblende. The granite is borderedby a dis-
in the vicinityof the Exotica exogenecopperdeposit continuouszone of granodiorite, diorite, and some
consistof a largeproportionof fragmentsof Fortuna gabbro. Magmatic biotite from the granite, some
granodioriteand very few porphyryor mineralized 2.5 km south-southeast of the alteredarea,yieldeda
fragments. This observationcan be interpretedto K-Ar age of 89+0.6 m.y.8 This early Upper
showvigorouserosionof the upthrownwesternblock Cretaceousage accordswell with the local strati-
(at a time when the suprajacentportionof the ore graphicevidence(Aguirre and Egert, 1970), and is
body had already been removed) and little erosion the oldest age yet obtainedfor a porphyry-type
of the presentChuquicamata ore bodyoccupying the development in the Andes. Most Chileandeposits
downthrown block. are markedlyyoungerand rangein age from Lower
Althoughthe senseand amountof displacement on to Upper Tertiary (Quirt et al., 1971). Very small
the West Fissurehavenot beenpreciselycalculated, and restricteddikesand bossesof rhyolite porphyry,
no evidence for extensive transcurrent movement andesitc,and aplite cut the granite in the altered
exists. Independent mappingin thispart of northern area and are only sparselymineralized. Contact
Chile by Thomas(1970) revealedno evidencefor metasomaticcopper and iron depositshave been
transcurrent fault movements, and the Cenozoic worked in the aureole of the compositepluton
tectonicsof the western Andes, east of the Coastal (AguirreandEgert, 1970).
Cordillera,are known to be characterizedexclusively The zone of hydrothermalalterationat Los Loros
by verticaldisplacements accompanying the uplift of has dimensions of 4 X 1.2 km and is therefore com-
the Andes. Nevertheless, the fact that the Fortuna parablein size with most porphyrydeposits. The
granodiorite extendsbothnorthandsouthof Chuqui- alteration zone is located in the interior of the south-
camatameansthat a componentof severalkm of easternpart of the granitepluton,whichpossesses an
transcurrent movement on the West 'Fissure could area of the order of 100 km 2. As illustrated in
beaccommodated by the aboveinterpretation. Figure 1, the restrictionof alteration-mineralization
The radiometricage determinationsclearly show to an area within, and away from the contactsof, a
that the ore bodyand Fortunagranodioriteare tem- homogeneous intrusiveis expectedin the root zone
porallyrelated,but are somewhat at oddswith the of a porphyrydeposit,wherethe intrusivehosthas
aboveinterpretation as it wouldbe expected that the begunto expandin size.
deeperlevelFortunagranodiorite wouldbe equiva- Potassiumsilicatealteration,locally weak, is the
lent, or youngei',in age than the mineralization, principalalterationtype at Los Loros; it grades
and not older as indicated. However, since fine- laterally into propyliticalteration,which in turn
grainedsericitehas a lower retentivecapacityfor givesway outwardto freshgranite. The potassium
argonthan that of coarsemagmaticbiotite,a reduc- silicatealterationis characterized by quartz-K-feld-
tion in the apparentsericiteage by 6-8 m.y. could spar-sericite-chlorite, with subordinate biotite and
easilyhave occurred,so accounting for the results. calcite. Stockworkveinletsare normallycomposed
of quartzand K-feldspar,biotiteis largelyreplaced
Lower mineralizedpart of a porphyrycoppersystem by chlorite,and sericitepeppersthe feldspars.This
Los Loros, Chile: Bearingin mind the generaliza~ alterationassemblage is similarto the deeppotassium
tion that the level of erosion decreases westward in silicatealterationdescribedfrom the lower parts of
Chileandthat the ageof intrusiveeventsincreases in the Kalamazoo deposit,Arizona (Lowell and Guil-
the samedirection,one might expectan old age and bert, 1970). The accompanying metallicminerals
deeperosionto be characteristics of the Los Loros are chieflypyrite and magnetitewith lesseramounts
alteration-mineralization area, which is situatedonly of molybdenite and chalcopyrite.The Cu and Mo
25 km from the Pacificlittoral (Fig. 2). occurin veinletswith quartz,quartz-K-feldspar, or
Porphyry-typemineralizationat Los Loros is alone. Somealterationminerals,especially K-feld-
TOPS AND BOTTOMS OF PORPHYRY COPPER DEPOSITS 807

spar, quartz, and magnetite,commonlyoccur as some 16 km in diameter, which cuts and overlies a
irregular, somewhatpegmatitic,massesin the rock. pre-Mesozoicbasementcan still be recognized. Six
A limited amountof drilling has shownthat potas- small porphyry copper-typedevelopmentsare ex-
sium silicate alteration and mineralization extend to posedin the central,mostdeeplyeroded,parts of the
a depthof at least250 m below surface,and, at the volcanicedifice,and two other developments cut the
site of drilling, the molybdenumgrade of hypogene basementfurther south (Fig. 5). The basement
ore averages0.058% Mo, althoughcopperassaysare consistsof granites, gneisses,slates,and phyllites,
consistentlylow (0.02% Cu) (United Nations, covered in parts by Miocene or older continental
1971). Such a molybdenumgrade is higher than sediments(Garcia, 1969; Llambias, 1970). Fault-
those in most productiveporphyry copper deposits ing prior to, during and subsequentto Cenozoic
and, taken in conjunctionwith the fact that the host magmatismdelimitedthe southernand easternmar-
intrusive is a granite, might indicatethat Los Loros gins of the Faral16nNegro volcaniccomplex,which
belongsto the classof molybdenum-rich porphyry occupiesa tectonicdepression(Fig. 5). The late
deposits. It shouldbe remembered,however, that Tertiary age of the complex (Gonz/dez Bonorino,
molybdenummineralizationis known to persistto 1950) has been continnedrecentlyby K-Ar dating
greater depths than copper mineralizationat the (Caelleset al., 1971).
Bingham, Utah, porphyry copper deposit (James, An extensivestudyof the Faral16nNegro volcanic
1971). complexhas recentlybeen undertakenby Llambias
Two smallareasof pyrite-richsericiticalteration, (1970, 1972), whose conclusionsare summarized
one of which is partially brecciated,are superim- here. Magmatism in the Faral16n Negro district
posedon the potassiumsilicatealteration. As sug- commencedin the late Tertiary with productionof
gestedabove, a predominanceof potassiumsilicate extrusive, and some intrusive, igneousbrecciasand
alterationis expectedin the lower partsof a porphyry tuffs of largely andesiticcomposition. These were
deposit. followedby or are contemporaneous with the em-
The above characteristics are considered to be placementof andesitedomesaround the periphery
consistentwith the interpretation of Los Loros as of the complex,perhapson the margin of a caldera,
the root zone of an upright cylinder of porphyry- along with dikes, sills, and flows of andesiteand
type mineralization. The column of mineralization basalt. The next eventwas the passiveemplacement
which is believedto have occupiedhigher levels in of a monzonite intrusive. Subsequentporphyry
the intrusive, perhapsa cupola-likestock, has been copper-typemineralization('Fig. 5) accompanied a
removedby the extensiveerosion sufferedby the stockof granodioriteporphyryassociated with ring
coastalzonesinceearly Upper Cretaceous times. dikes and a radial dike swarm of andesitic to dacitic
Other areas: In British Columbia, the Brenda composition in the Bajo del Duraznoarea (Fig. 5),
porphyry copperand the Endako porphyry molyb- and a NW-SE-trending belt of small stocksand
denum both are depositsrelated to phaneritic in- dikesrangingin composition from quartz andesiteto
trusivesand they have beeninterpretedas deep-level dacite and rhyodacite. The final stages in the
depositsby Brown (1969). The possibilityexists development of the complexincludethe intrusionof
that they were at one time overlainby more typical scarcedomesand dikesof rhyolite and the emplace-
porphyry-typemineralizationand coevalvolcanics. ment of rhodochrosite-Au-Ag veinsin which a little
Cu, Pb, and Zn are presentlocally. Within the
Porphyry copperdepositsspatiallyrelated to coeval complexa strong northwestregionaltrend is em-
volcanic rocks
phasizedby the alignmentof dikes,fractures,veins,
Faralldn Ne#ro, northwestArgentina: Although intrusive bodies and alteration zones.
a generalcontemporaneity of porphyryore deposits Someof the zonesof porphyrycopper-type min-
and calc-alkaline volcanism seems to be indicated eralizationexhibit characteristicand well-developed
(Sillitoe, 1972a), the detailedinter-relationships be- zonalpatternsof hydrothermalalteration-mineraliza-
tween the two phenomenaare rarely conduciveto tion, eventhoughtheyoccupyareasof lessthan 1.5
preservation. However, since the porphyry copper km2 (Garcia, 1969,1971; Sillitoe,unpub.). A potas-
depositsat Faral16n Negro in CatamarcaProvince, sium silicate-alteredcore centered on a porphyry
northwestArgentina ('Fig. 2), wereemplacedwithin stock,surrounded by a halo of sericiticand argillic
the comagmaticvolcanicpile, insteadof in the sub- alteration,andpassingoutwardinto propyliticaltera-
volcanicbasementas normally seemsto be the case, tion in the enclosingvolcanicrocksis well shownat
their position in spaceand time with respect to Bajo de la A!umbreraand Bajo del Durazno (Fig.
volcanic events can be elucidated. 5). Evidencefrom drill coreshowsthat mostof the
In the Faral16nNegro district, the basalwreck of copperoccursin thepotassium silicatecoreaschalco-
a lateTertiary,calc-alkaline, composite stratovolcano,pyriteandis accompanied by pyrite,magnetite, and
808 RICHIRD H. SILLITOE

minor molybdeniteand bornite. A pyrite halo coin- 7.1 m.y. for mineralized stocks in the Bajo del
cideswith feldspar-destructivealterationtypes. Else- Duraznoand Bejo de San Lucasareas (Fig. 5).
where,as at Bajo de Agua Tapada (Fig. 5), potas- It canbe appreciatedthat the older,marginalparts
siumsilicatealterationis poorlydeveloped in the core of the complex are composedof outward-dipping
of the stockand is accompanied by only weak min- agglomerates,tuffs, and flows that represent the
eralizafion. lower slopesof the volcaffo.The generallyyounger,
inner parts possessa greater number of intrusive
The resultsof radiometricdatingby Caelleset al. bodies together with the altered and mineralized
(1971) further emphasizethat the porphyrycopper- areas and were formed in the root zone of the
type mineralizationat Faral16n Negro is intimately volcano.
relatedto late intrusivestagesin the developmentof In Figure 6 an attempt has beenmade to recon-
a complexstratovolcano.They determinedan ageof struct the volcanicedifice. The distributionof dips
10.7 m.y. for an andesireflow from the volcanic within the complexand the locationsof the stocks
superstructure, and clearlyyoungeragesof 7.9 and suggestthat its easternand southernmargins have

0 5
I
KILOMETERS

Bajo de Agua Tapada-


ka Josefa

Bajo
de(

Durazno

+*+?+*jo
elas

Bajo
dot
Espanto
Bai
d tos
ALLUVIUM
&GRAVEL
rARALLO"
,.RUS,VE .EGRO
CO..LEX VO'CA.,C-

.O.O.TE ,.RUS,
VE MIOCENE

ZO.Sor .DROT.ERMAL
ALTERAT,
O.
CONTINENTAL
SEDIMENTS MIOCENE

GRANITE.
GNEISS,
SLATE
&PHYLLITEPRE- MESOZOIC

FAULTSHOWING
DOWNTHROWN
SIDE A-A I LINEOF SECT!ON

Fro. 5. Zones of hydrothermalalteration at Faral16n Negro, Argentina. Geologymainly after Llambias (1970). The
Bajo de las Juntas zone is located beyond the limits of the figure, some8 km southeastof Bajo de San Lucas.
TOPS WINDBOTTOMS OF PORPHYRY COPPER DEPOSITS 809

N.W
S.E

Alluvium,gravel O.
IJATERNARY

Faral16n
Negro
volcanic-intrusive
complex
}
?-**Monzonite
intrusive
::"'Stock
andhydrothermal
PRE-MESOZOIC
alteration
UPPER
MIOCENE /j / -0o0'

Fro.6. A generalized
section
across
theFaral16n
Negro
volcanic-intrusive
complex
along
lineA-A in Figure
5,
takenfromLlamb;as
(1970).Thereconstruction
ofthevolcanic
cone
islargely
hypothetical.
beeneroded awayasa resultof faulting(Fig. 5). severalunderlyingporphyrystockswith whichthe
If this simplified
reconstruction
approximates the potassiumsilicate alteration and mineralization are
truth, thenthe unerodedstratovolcano
had an altitude intimately
associated
(Gustafson
and Hunt, 1971).
of about6,000m, thusimplying theremoval of more Although morphological
evidencehasbeendestroyed,
than3,000m ofvolcanic rocksbysubsequent erosion. it is here considered
that thesevolcanicrocks,in
It can be appreciatedthat the dimensions of the particularthe upperrhyolites,representthe basal
reconstructed
edificeare closelysimilarto thoseof portionof a comagmatic volcanicpilethatoverlaythe
theQuaternary andesiticconesin thehighAndesof orebodyat its timeof formation about41 m.y.ago.
Chile and Argentina. 'Fromthis reconstruction it The mineralized stockswere eraplacedcloseto the
canbe inferredthat the apexof the Bajo de la contact between basement and volcanic cover.
Alumbrera
porphyry
copper
deposit
waseraplaced
at The occurrencein the upper parts of the E1
a maximumdepth of about 3,000 m beneaththe Salvadoralterationzoneof advanced argillicaltera-
summit ofthevolcano,ignoringtheeffects
ofpossibletion, characterizedby pyrophyllite,
diaspore,and
calderadevelopment. If thevolcanicsuperstructure
alunite(Gustafson and Hunt, 1971), supports the
consistedof several
mutually interfering
cones,
and contention that the overlyingvolcanicenvironment
notof a singleconeasdepicted, likemanyQuater- is beingapproached.Availableevidence doesnot,
nary Andeanvolcanoes,
then the coverover the de- however,permit an estimationof the thicknessof
positcouldhavebeensomewhatless. (Thedipsin volcanic covers that has been eroded since the ore
the volcanic
complexcouldalsobe interpreted
in bodywaseraplaced.
termsoftwoorperhapsmorecones.)Figure6 also Otherareas:At Faral16nNegroandE1 Salvador
indicates
thatthemonzonite
intrusivewaseraplacedthe contemporaneous volcanicrockspossess an inti-
beneathonly some2,000 m of cover. Columnsof mateandfairlyclearspatialrelationship to intrusives,
silicification
andadvanced
argillicalteration
thatare alteration, and mineralization. At some other locali-
inferred
to haveonceoverlain
theporphyry
copperties, however,contemporaneous volcanicrockshave
orebodieshavebeeneroded
awayalongwiththetop been recognizedbut are not in such direct contact
3 km of the edifice. with the ore bodies.
El Salvador,
Chile:At E1Salvador (Fig.2), some At Bingham, Utah,stockintrusion andporphyry
ofthehighestpartsofthealterationzonearecappedcopper-type mineralizationoverlapin time with the
by rhyolites
thatseem,at leastin part,to havehad nearbyextrusion
of a seriesof coma#matic
latiticand
an extrusiveorigin,and rhyoliticand andesiticwall quartzlatiticvolcanic
rocks(Mooreet al., 1968).
rocksarealsopresentat lowerelevations (Swayne There,as at Faral16nNegro,magmatic andhydro-
andTrask,1960). Theresults of radiometric
dating thermaleventswereterminated
by theintrusion
of a
have shownthat rhyolitic and andesiticvolcanism rhyolite
plug. The Sar Cheshmeh porphyrycopper
pre-datedby some4-9 m.y. the eraplacement of depositin Iranislocated
3 kmsouthofanoutcrop of
810 RICHARD H. SILLITOE

dacitic volcanic rocks thought to be the extrusive exampleswere constructedon a platform of Middle
equivalentof the mineralizedgranodioriteporphyry to Upper Tertiary ignimbrite flows (Katsui and
stock(Bazin and Hfibner, 1969). To the southand Gonzalez, 1968; Guest, 1969). Cerro Marquez in
west of the Mount Fubilan (Ok Tedi) porphyry Tarapac/t Province, northern Chile (Fig. 2), has
copperdeposit,Territory of Papuaand New Guinea, been selectedas an example.
pyrodasticrocks, perhapscogemetic with the min- The erodedCerro Marqu6z stratovolcano of prob-
eralized quartz latite porphyry stock and other able Quaternary age (Salas et al., 1966) has a
nearbystocks,havebeenidentified(Barnford,1972). presentmaximumheight of 4,960 m abovesealevel
At Stafford,Arizona, a pyrodastic-filledpipe, inter- about 1,000 m above the surroundingignimbrite
pretedby Robinsonand Cook (1966) as a volcanic plateau. The flanksof the edifice,extendingupward
vent, formed pemecontemporaneously with the ore to its highest point, are composedof unaltered
body. andesiticlavas, tuffs and agglomerateswhich in the
central, eroded portion of the structure (4,350-
Alteration and mineralixationoverlying porphyry 4,700 m) are conspicuously altered (Fig. 7). The
copperdeposits edificeoccupies an area of 12 x 9 km and the altera-
Cerro Marqux, Chile: In the high Andes of Chile tion coversan inner area approximating8 x 6 km.
and northwestArgentina many Pliocemeand more Reconstruction of the probableinitial form of the
recentandesiticstratovolcanoes have undergonedis- volcano,based on the observedoutward dip of the
sectionto reveal extensive zones of hydrothermal andesiticvolcanicsof 20-25 , suggeststhat some
alteration. Much of the erosion can be attributed 1,250-1,500m have been removedby erosionfrom
to the effectsof the Pleistoceneglaciation.Like most above the alteration zone.
of the volcanic conesin northern Chile, these eroded The hydrothermal alteration is largely of the

Fro. 7. The zone of propyliticand ar.gillic alterationand silicificationin the central part of Cerro Marquez, Chile, a
deeply eroded andesiticstratovolcano. The white alteration zone boundedby the unerodedlower slopesof the volcano is
dearly visible on the horizon. The volcanooverlies a plateau constructedof mid-to-late Tertiary ignimbriteswhich is seen
in the foreground.
TOPS AND BOTTOMS OF PORPHYRY COPPER DEPOSITS 811

argillic and propylitictypes with abundantpyrite monly accompaniedby advancedargillic alteration


(mainly oxidizedto limonite) and gypsum;some and represents
a similarhigh-levelsituation,perhaps
argillic alteration may be of supergeneorigin. abovethe porphyry environment.
Silicification,resultingin the replacementof vol- Additionalevidence:In this section,the presence
canicsby dense,aphaniticsilica,commonlyoccursas of native sulfur has been referred to at both Cerro
patches,perhapsrepresentingthe principalconduits Marquez and Cerro Queva, localitiescited as typical
for hydrothermalfluids; someoutcropsare brec- of the extensionsupward into the truly volcanicen-
ciated. A little nativesulfurand aluniteare present, vironmentof porphyrycopperdeposits. The tops of
minerals that are more common in other areas of this volcanoes possesseven greater concentrationsof
type. A small body, probablya dike, of quartz native sulfur, as noted below.
porphyry in which the feldsparsare altered to Moreover, in this regard, it may be significantthat
sericite was observed within the altered zone. severallocalitiespossessing the characteristicsof the
The size and character of alteration zones like upper parts of porphyrycopperdeposits,albeit with
that at Cerro Marqudzare consistentwith the sug- some copper mineralization, also contain native sul-
gestionthat they representthe near-surfaceeffects fur. At Ticnamar, Chile (Fig. 2), a large zone of
produced by hydrothermal fluids emanating from alteration characterizedby irregular dikelike in-
porphyry copper depositsat deeper levels. trusives, pyritic feldspar-destructive alteration, and
Cerro Queva,northwest.dr#entina:Cerro Queva widespreadhydrothermalintrusionbreccias,the as-
('Fig. 2) and adjoiningpeakscomprisea complex semblagenative sulfur.-pyriteis fairly abundant.The
Plioceneor Quaternarystratovolcano (Vilela, 1969) hypogeneassemblagenative sulfur-pyrite-covellite
built on Paleozoic basement that has suffered intenseoccurscommonlyin an extensivebody of hydrother-
erosion of its upper parts during the Pleistocene mal intrusion breccia that has undergonefeldspar-
glaciation. The erosionhas removed fresh andesites destructivealteration at the Cerro Rico porphyry
and dacitesto reveallarge alterationareasin which copperdeposit,Argentina (Fig. 2). Furthermore,
patchesof intensesilicificationare interspersedwith a minor occurrence of native sulfur was described
argillic and propylitic alteration; hydrothermal from the marginal propylitic alteration zone at the
brecciasoccurlocally. Pyrite and gypsumare wide- Los Pelambresporphyry copperdeposit (Sillitoe,
spread, and native sulfur has been worked at the 1973).
highest elevations. In some of the alteration areas,
a few hundred meters lower than the native sulfur Tops of porphyry coppersystems
concentration,fine-grainedlead-silvermineralization .ducanquilcha,
Chile:The Aucanquilcha
volcanoin
occursand is exploitedat the E1 Queva mine. The AntofagastaProvince, northern Chile (Fig. 2), is a
mineralization,accompaniedby pyrite, chalcedony, Quaternary andesitic stratovolcanothat attains an
alunite,barite,and clayminerals(not yet identified), altitude of 6,186 m above sea level. The volcanic
formedas a replacement of flowsalonga pronounced edifice measuresapproximately10 km in diameter
east-west structural trend. and towers some 1,500 m above the surrounding
This locality4 is an excellent example of "epi- ignimbriteplateau. The volcanois inactiveand no
thermal" mineralizationassociatedwith widespread fumaroleswere observed(in 1971), althoughpatches
hydrothermal alteration within a volcanic super- of hot groundexist. The summitregion,composed
structure,abovethe level at which porphyrycopper- of andesiticlavasandpyroclastics, is characterized
by
type mineralizationmight be expected (Fig. 1). largedepositsof nativesulfur in whichsmallpockets
Other areas: An "epithermal,"polymetallicde- of friable, deep blue covellite are admixed with the
posit consistingof veins and brecciazoneswas once elementalsulfur (Ruiz et al., 1965). In a micro-
worked for silver at Choquelimpie,Tarapacfi.Prov- scopicstudy of samplesfrom this locality, Clark
ince, northern Chile (Fig. 2). The mineralization (1970) foundthe phaseCua..FeS0..5 intergrownwith
is located in an area of alteration in an eroded the normal covellite.
andesitic stratovolcano of Pliocene or more recent Aucanquilcha is typical of over 1,000 strato-
age. Silicification, chalcedony, and alunite ac- volcanoesin northern Chile, of which only 13 are
active (Casertano, 1963), though many are in the
companythe ore minerals.
Precious metal and Pb-Zn-Cu mineralization in
fumarolicstage. The edificeshaveheightsof 1,000-
2,500 m above the surrounding volcanic plateau.
young, propylitic-alteredvolcanic rocks in other Many of the volcanoespossess summitaccumulations
parts of the world, suchas the San Juan Mountains of native sulfur and beneaththe surfacepyrite is
of Colorado(Burbank and Luedke, 1969), is corn- commonlyabundant (A. Thomas, pers. commun.,
4 A more detailed account of the Cerro Queva district
1972). No evidenceis available,however, on the
will be presentedelsewhere when work is completed. occurrenceof metals in the fumarolic deposits,o[
812 RICHARD H. SILLITOE

whichno detailedstudieshave yet beenundertaken. bert (1970), whereby bodiesof calc-alkaline


magma
Additionalevidence:The occurrence of large ac- losetheir fluid content,at timesviolently,during
cumulations of native sulfur near the vents of retrograde boiling after the cessationof ascent at
andesitic stratovolcanoes is not restricted to the high crustallevels. Alteration,mineralization,and
Andes but is a widespreadphenomenonin the cir- brecciationin the early-consolidated hood of the
cum-Pacificand Alpide orogenicbelts. Large ton- intrusive and its immediate wall rocks are ac-
nagesof pyrite and marcasitehavebeendescribedas complished by the escapingfluids.
associates of native sulfur at andesitic volcanoes in
Japan (Takeuchiet al., 1966) and Taiwan (Kinkel, Relationto volcaniccycle
1966). Despite this abundanceof native sulfur and, It followsfrom the proposedmodelthat fumarolic,
in places,of iron disulfidesin the summit regionsof solfataric,and hot-springactivity are the surficial
subaerialvolcanoes,significantaccumulationsof base manifestations of retrogradeboiling in one or more
metals seemto be absent. However, it is well known subjacent magma chambers,and of the interaction
that somehigh-temperaturefumarolicvaporscarry between forcefully released magmatic fluids and
minor values (White and Waring, 1963), and, in convectivelycirculating ground waters. Therefore,
addition to the copper showing at Aucanquilcha, porphyry copper formation, as well as fumarolic
several instances of the occurrence of base metals, activity,is the terminalstagein the development of a
particularly copper,in volcanicsublimateshave been stratovolcano, postdatingthe main explosiveactivity
recorded. and lava effusionconduciveto coneconstruction,and
In the volcanoes of Kamchatka and the Kurile probablyalso postdatingcalderadevelopmentwhen
Islands, copperis concentratedup to 6,000-fold in it is present (e.g., 'Faral16nNegro). This suggests
somesublimatescomparedwith the amountsin the that the magma bodies that now host porphyry
associatedlavas, and sublimatescontaining60% Cu copperdepositsmay perhapsrepresentmagmacham-
and a variety of other base metals also occur bers that were not emptied by eruption but were
(Naboko, 1959). Copper, chiefly as tenorite and permitted to evolveunder relatively quiescentcondi-
copper-bearingaphthitalite, accompaniedby iron, tions. Relativelynilnor magmatismmay sometimes
lead, and zinc, are abundant in fumarolic products occur subsequentto porphyry copper'formation,
both in the summit crater and on the surface of lava however, and is representedby postmineralization
flows at Cerro Negro volcano,Nicaragua (Stoiber intrusivesand breccias(e.g., Carter, 1970), suchas
and Rose,1971), and copperand zinc are presentin the rhyolitesat Faral16nNegro.
gases from high-temperature fumaroles at Showa- Bodies of hydrothermal breccia are concentrated
shinzanvolcano,Japan (Mizutani, 1970). It would in the upper parts of porphyry coppersystemsand,
seemthat basemetals, particularly copper,are rela- althoughsomeare undoubtedlyblind, major masses
tively widespreadas minor constituents of sublimates such as the Braden pipe at E1 Teniente (with a
near the central vents of volcanoes, and it seems diameter of 1,200 m and a vertical extent of at least
probablethat large quantitiesof thesemetalsare lost 1,600 m; Howell and Molloy, 1960), may have
to the atmosphereas gasesor as componentsof con- possessedconnection with the surface (Fig. 1).
centrated brines in aerosols. Therefore the operationof fluidizedsystemsin depth
In addition to noting the presenceof basemetals may in certain cases be representedby surficial
in high-temperatutefumarolicproducts,it is worth explosiveor hydrothermalphenomena.
emphasizingthat the compositions of their emissions
(Iranov, 1959; White and Waring, 1963) and the Hydrothermalfluidsin porphyrycoppersystems
accumulations of alkali chlorides and sulfates around The idea (Rose, 1970; Meyer and I-Iemley,1967)
fumarolic orifices would seem to correspondin a that the potassiumsilicate/sericiticalteration inter-
gross way with the nature of mineralizing fluids in face might representthe inner boundaryof ground
the potassium silicate alteration zone, as inferred water participationin mineralizationhasgainedcon-
fromfluidinclusion(Roedder,1971) andmineralogic siderablesupportfrom oxygenand hydrogenisotope
(e.g., abundanceof anhydrite) evidence. data obtained from these two alteration types at
Discussion
several porphyry ore deposits (Sheppard et al.,
1971). Thus muchof the magmaticfluid involvedin
In this final sectionsomefurther implicationsof potassiumsilicate alteration tended to be grossly
the proposedmodelfor porphyrycoppersystemsare dilutedby interactionwith groundwater as it moved
considered,with particular emphasis on certain upward and, to someextent, outward from a con-
genetic aspects. This discussionacceptsthe ortho- solidatingstock. I-lot springsand low-temperature
magmaticmodel for porphyry copperformation,as fumaroles,generallymetal-deficient (Naboko,1959),
supportedby Nielsen (1968) and Lowell and Guil- probablyrepresentpointswheretheseheatedground
TOPS IND BOTTOMS OF PORPHYRY COPPER DEPOSITS 813

waters debouch. It is postulated,however,that a Regionalconsiderations


small portion of the magmaticfluid is occasionally
If the model proposedin this report is correct,
releasedupwardin the vicinityof the centralvents
then porphyry coppersystemseffectivelyspan the
of volcanoesto producehigh-temperature fumaroles;
boundarybetweenthe plutonicand volcanicenviron-
separationof volatile phasesduring ascentgives rise merits. This conclusion lends further credence to
to the sourcematerials for at least a part of the
sublimates and their contained metals. This is in Hamilton's (1969) thesisthat batholithicbeltsrepre-
sentthe rootsof eruptivechains.
agreementwith the conclusions reachedby Stoiber
and Rose (1970) who confirm the importanceof Furthermore,the intimategeneticrelationbetween
ground water contamination but stress that certain porphyry copperdepositsand calc-alkalineintrusive
componentsof sublimates(e.g., C1, SO4, and some and extrusive activity is a cogentargumentin favor
Na and K) have a direct magmaticsource. of the restrictionof this type of mineralizationto
belts above active, or once-active,subductionzones
The hypothetical model advanced here for a
porphyry copper systemis preferred to that sug- (Sillitoe, 1972a,b; Mitchell and Gatson, 1972),
gestedby White et al. (1971) who claimed that since this class of magmatism is the hallmark of
porphyry copper systemsare generatedin vapor- convergentplate margins.
dominated geothermal systems involving the con- Acknowledgments
vective circulationof meteoric (and cormate) fluids
abovea magmaticheat source,with little direct con- Most of the informationin thispaperwasgathered
tribution of fluids or metalsfrom the magma. While while the writer was engagedby the Instituto de
an associationof convectivelycirculating meteoric InvestigacionesGeo16gicasof Chile, the Empresa
fluidswith the upperpartsof activeporphyrycopper Nacional de Mineria-Junta de Adelanto de Africa
systemsseemsinevitable,the highly saline, metal- of Chile, and the United Nations, New York (as-
bearingbrines involvedin potassiumsilicatealtera- signed to the Chile-28 Project: United Nations-
tion seem better derived as a normal facet of the late ENAMI and Plan NOA-1 Geo16gico-Minero,
stages of magmatic evolution (e.g., Kilinc and Repfiblica Argentina). Personnel from all these
Burnham,1972), in view of the stableisotopedata of organizationsare thankedfor their assistanceand for
Sheppardet al. (1971). Furthermore,deepdrilling the provisionof useful data; in particular I should
of vapor-dominatedgeothermalsystemshas so far like to thank Sres. Harry Neumann, Carlos Porti-
not encountered alteration and mineralization of the gliati, Arthur Thomas, David Pacci and Eugenio
type found in porphyrycopperdeposits. Rodrigudz from Chile, Jorge Mancini and Carlos
Lurgo from Argentina, and Messrs. Donald Robert-
Implicationsfor super#enealteration son, Franco Maranzana and Gerald Moorhead from
If it is correct to assumethat porphyry copper the United Nations. Permission to include data on
systemsoutcropat surface,then supergenealteration Los Loros was granted by Messrs. John Carman
of their upperparts might be expectedto commence and Robertson of United Nations, New York.
immediatelyupon cessationof hypogenemineraliza- Drs. John Angus and George P. L. Walker
tion. Moreover, the interaction of magmatic and provided useful discussions,and ProfessorsDavid
meteoric fluids above the potassiumsilicatealtered Williams, Angus, and the reviewers, Drs. L. B.
core during mineralizationsuggeststhat hypogene Gustafson
and J. D. Lowell, madenumeroususeful
effects may well be transitional to supergeneones. commentson the manuscript.
Erosion of a recentlyformed stratovolcanois likely The paper was preparedat the Royal Schoolof
to be rapid, especiallyunder tropicalconditions,en- Mines, Imperial College,London, under tenure of a
ablingthe effectsof supergenealterationto progress Shell PostdoctoralResearch Fellowship.
downwardto the upperpart of the columnof Cu-Mo
iDEPARTMENT OF 3,/lINING GEOLOGY
mineralizationin a relativelyshort time. Gustarson RoY^L School oF MINES
and Hunt (1971) stated that superserieenrichment IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
in the E1 Salvadordepositcommenced within 6 m.y. LoNroN SW7 2BP,
of intrusion and mineralization.
,4,tgust15, 1972; February28, 1973
A further possibilityduring the initial stagesof
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