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Pleistocene recycling of copper at a porphyry system, Atacama Desert, Chile: Cu isotope evidence

Abstract : We present Cu isotope data of hypogene and supergene minerals from the Late Paleocene Spence Cu-Mo porphyry in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Chalcopyrite displays a restricted range of δ65Cu values within the values reported for primary porphyry Cu sulfides (+ 0.28‰ to + 0.34‰, n = 6). Supergene chalcocite samples show heavier and remarkably homogeneous δ65Cu values, between + 3.91‰ and + 3.95‰ (n = 6), consistent with previous models of Cu leaching and enrichment in porphyry systems. Secondary Cu minerals from the oxide zone show a wider range of composition, varying from + 1.28‰ and + 1.37‰ for chrysocolla (n = 6) to very light Cu isotope signatures reported for atacamite between -5.72‰ to -6.77‰ (n = 17). These data suggest redox cycling of Cu during supergene enrichment of the Spence Cu deposit, characterized by a first stage of supergene chalcocite formation from acidic, isotopically-heavy leach fluids of meteoric origin down-flowing in a semi-arid climate (44 to ~ 15-9 Ma). Reworking of the initial supergene copper assemblage, during the Pleistocene, by rising neutral and chlorine-rich deep formation waters under well-established hyper-arid climate conditions lead to the formation of atacamite with extremely fractionated Cu compositions. Essentially coeval chrysocolla formed by dissolution of atacamite during short episodes of wetter climatic conditions occurring in the latest Pleistocene.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 9:57:03 AM
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Carlos Palacios, Olivier Rouxel, Martin Reich, Eion Cameron, Matthew I. Leybourne. Pleistocene recycling of copper at a porphyry system, Atacama Desert, Chile: Cu isotope evidence. Mineralium Deposita, Spinger, 2010, 46 (1), pp.1-7. ⟨10.1007/s00126-010-0315-6⟩. ⟨insu-00610098⟩

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