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Importance of small-block rotations in damage zones along transcurrent faults. Evidence from the Chuquicamata open pit, Northern Chile

Abstract : Chuquicamata, in northern Chile, is one of the largest porphyry copper deposits in the world; the western side of its orebody is bounded by a major longitudinal fault, the West fault. We report paleomagnetic results from surface sites and drill cores from different geological units at Chuquicamata, especially within the late Eocene Fiesta granodiorite of the western block of the West fault. Characteristic remanent magnetizations (ChRM) were determined after detailed thermal or alternating field demagnetization. Soft components carried by multidomain magnetite crystals in the Fiesta granodiorite were removed by AF demagnetization at 10­20 mT. The ChRMs, not demagnetized by alternating fields up to 100 mT, have unblocking temperatures above 580 °C with ~ 75% of the magnetization removed in the temperature range of 580­590 °C. Optical and SEM mineralogical observations, and microprobe data indicate the occurrence of multidomain magnetite formed during a late magmatic stage of alteration coeval with strong oxidation of primary titanomagnetite and formation of ilmenite, hematite, pseudobrookite, and rutile. The characteristic directions have negative inclinations and declinations (330° to 230°); strongly deflected from the expected Eocene direction. Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS), with degree up to 1.4, is carried by multidomain magnetite. AMS ellipsoids have subvertical foliations with azimuth varying strongly from N280° to N20°. We show that both the ChRMs and the AMS fabrics record the same apparent relative rotations between sites. Although the AMS anisotropy is high, there is no evidence for a solid-state deformation and the apparent rotation of the magnetic fabric is interpreted to be the consequence of small-block rotation. The apparent large (> 100°) counterclockwise rotations of small blocks within the Fiesta granodiorite suggest a wide damaged zone related to sinistral displacement along the West fault. This interpretation is consistent with previous models indicating that the Fiesta granodiorite was sinistrally translated and brought in front of the early Oligocene porphyry copper deposit during the Oligocene­early Miocene. This study shows that paleomagnetic markers are useful for improving the quantification and understanding of small-scale deformation within plutons adjacent to major fault zones.
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N. Astudillo, Pierrick Roperch, Brian Townley, César Arriagada, V. Maksaev. Importance of small-block rotations in damage zones along transcurrent faults. Evidence from the Chuquicamata open pit, Northern Chile. Tectonophysics, Elsevier, 2008, 450 (1-4), pp.1-20. ⟨10.1016/j.tecto.2007.12.008⟩. ⟨insu-00374159⟩



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