Chalcophile element fertility and the formation of porphyry Cu ± Au deposits

Jung Woo Park*, Ian H. Campbell, Sanjeewa P.K. Malaviarachchi, Helen Cocker, Hongda Hao, Suzanne M. Kay

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    52 Citations (Scopus)


    Chalcophile element fertility, the chalcophile metal abundance in the source magma, is likely to be a critical factor for the formation of porphyry Cu ± Au deposits. In this study, we provide evidence to support this hypothesis by comparing the platinum group element (PGE) geochemistry of barren and ore-bearing Cu ± Au granitic suites. We report the PGE contents of three barren volcanic and subvolcanic suites from Argentina and Japan and two Cu ± Au bearing suites from Indonesia and Chile. These results are compared with those from previous studies of a porphyry Cu-only subvolcanic suite from Chile and three porphyry Cu-Au-bearing suites from Australia and the USA. The barren suites are depleted in PGE abundances by the time of fluid exsolution (< 0.1 ppb Pd and Pd/Pt < ~ 3), which is attributed to early sulfide saturation in a mid to lower crustal magma chamber. In contrast, the Cu ± Au ore-bearing suites contain at least an order of magnitude higher PGE contents than the barren ones at fluid saturation (up to ~ 10 ppb Pd and Pd/Pt of 0.1–40). They are characterized by late sulfide saturation, which allows both chalcophile elements and sulfur to concentrate by fractional crystallization before volatile saturation. We suggest that plots of Pd/MgO against Pd/Pt for igneous suites can be used to estimate chalcophile element fertility and distinguish between barren, porphyry Cu, and porphyry Cu-Au granitoid systems. The positive correlation of these chalcophile element fertility indicators and ore grades suggests that metal contents in magmas play an important role in controlling ore grade, particularly Au, in porphyry Cu ± Au deposits.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)657-670
    Number of pages14
    JournalMineralium Deposita
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2019


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