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  • 2005-2009  (1)
  • 1
    Publication Date: 2006-12-01
    Description: The Aguablanca Ni–(Cu) sulfide deposit is hosted by a breccia pipe within a gabbro–diorite pluton. The deposit probably formed due to the disruption of a partially crystallized layered mafic complex at about 12–19 km depth and the subsequent emplacement of melts and breccias at shallow levels (〈2 km). The ore-hosting breccias are interpreted as fragments of an ultramafic cumulate, which were transported to the near surface along with a molten sulfide melt. Phlogopite Ar–Ar ages are 341–332 Ma in the breccia pipe, and 338–334 Ma in the layered mafic complex, and are similar to recently reported U–Pb ages of the host Aguablanca Stock and other nearby calc-alkaline metaluminous intrusions (ca. 350–330 Ma). Ore deposition resulted from the combination of two critical factors, the emplacement of a layered mafic complex deep in the continental crust and the development of small dilational structures along transcrustal strike-slip faults that triggered the forceful intrusion of magmas to shallow levels. The emplacement of basaltic magmas in the lower middle crust was accompanied by major interaction with the host rocks, immiscibility of a sulfide melt, and the formation of a magma chamber with ultramafic cumulates and sulfide melt at the bottom and a vertically zoned mafic to intermediate magmas above. Dismembered bodies of mafic/ultramafic rocks thought to be parts of the complex crop out about 50 km southwest of the deposit in a tectonically uplifted block (Cortegana Igneous Complex, Aracena Massif). Reactivation of Variscan structures that merged at the depth of the mafic complex led to sequential extraction of melts, cumulates, and sulfide magma. Lithogeochemistry and Sr and Nd isotope data of the Aguablanca Stock reflect the mixing from two distinct reservoirs, i.e., an evolved siliciclastic middle-upper continental crust and a primitive tholeiitic melt. Crustal contamination in the deep magma chamber was so intense that orthopyroxene replaced olivine as the main mineral phase controlling the early fractional crystallization of the melt. Geochemical evidence includes enrichment in SiO2 and incompatible elements, and Sr and Nd isotope compositions (87Sr/86Sri 0.708–0.710; 143Nd/144Ndi 0.512–0.513). However, rocks of the Cortegana Igneous Complex have low initial 87Sr/86Sr and high initial 143Nd/144Nd values suggesting contamination by lower crustal rocks. Comparison of the geochemical and geological features of igneous rocks in the Aguablanca deposit and the Cortegana Igneous Complex indicates that, although probably part of the same magmatic system, they are rather different and the rocks of the Cortegana Igneous Complex were not the direct source of the Aguablanca deposit. Crust–magma interaction was a complex process, and the generation of orebodies was controlled by local but highly variable factors. The model for the formation of the Aguablanca deposit presented in this study implies that dense sulfide melts can effectively travel long distances through the continental crust and that dilational zones within compressional belts can effectively focus such melt transport into shallow environments. ©2006 Springer-Verlag
    Print ISSN: 0026-4598
    Electronic ISSN: 1432-1866
    Topics: Geosciences
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