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The magmatic-hydrothermal transition-evidence from quartz phenocryst textures and endoskarn abundance in Cu-Zn skarns at the Empire Mine, Idaho, USA

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-25, 22:41 authored by Chang, Z, Meinert, LD
Information about the magmatic to hydrothermal transition is preserved in late-stage features of quartz phenocrysts and endoskarn alteration in some Cu-Zn skarn deposits such as the Empire Mine in Idaho. Important features include: (1) quartz phenocrysts with strong resorption textures such as vermicular zones of igneous groundmass cutting primary quartz cathodoluminescence banding, (2) anomalous amounts of endoskarn (more than 50% of mineralized rock), (3) high F activities as evidenced by fluorite as an accessory mineral in igneous rocks, in alteration assemblages, and in fluid inclusions and by high F in hydroxyl sites in igneous biotite and amphibole, and (4) direct association of Zn, which normally is deposited distally at low temperature, with Cu in proximal locations and in endoskarn. These features are explained by the following model: (1) F lowers the solidus temperature of the magma, thus changing the timing, temperature, and duration of hydrothermal fluid exsolution. (2) Upon magmatic vapor saturation the F-rich hydrothermal fluids form bubbles that adhere to quartz phenocrysts and chemically corrode/tunnel into the quartz forming vermicular resorption textures. (3) F-rich hydrothermal fluids also promote the formation of endoskarn; silicic rocks are attacked by F-rich fluids in the same sense that carbonate wall rocks are dissolved by weakly to moderately acidic hydrothermal fluids. (4) Low fluid exsolution temperature facilitated by high F activity promotes high Zn/Cu ratios in proximal locations due to the solubility of Zn relative to Cu at lower temperatures. This model may be applicable at other localities such as the world-class Cu-Zn skarn Antamina mine, as well as some tin and rapakivi granites.


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Chemical Geology



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