Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

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  • Oxidized hydrous intermediate composition magmas are responsible for porphyry copper (Cu ±Mo ±Au) deposits and epithermal Au ore deposits formed globally in the shallow crust (Sillitoe, 2010; Seedorff et al., 2005). Recently, zircon geochemistry has been used to characterize both productive and barren intrusions associated with porphyry Cu-Au ore deposits. Zircon composition differs slightly between the two intrusive groups, and researchers have proposed that zircon in productive intrusions has crystallized from a relatively more oxidized melt compared to barren intrusions (Ballard et al., 2002; Muñoz et al., 2012). Zircon rare earth elements record anomalies in Ce and Eu contents that allow estimation of the ratio of oxidized versus reduced species, i.e. Ce⁴⁺/Ce³⁺ (Ce[superscript IV]/Ce[superscript III]) and Eu³⁺/Eu²⁺ (Eu/Eu*)[subscript CN]. This study focuses on understanding the compositions of Eocene magmas associated with sediment hosted Carlin gold deposits and the gold-copper ores of the Battle Mountain porphyry Cu-Au-skarn district in northern Nevada. Zircon trace element composition was analyzed using LA-ICP-MS and SHRIMP-RG to determine differences between mineralizing and non-mineralizing intrusions in northern Nevada and to compare these compositions with known porphyry Cu-Au type magmas. These zircon and rock compositional data was then used to test the hypothesis of a magmatic origin of the Carlin type gold deposits (Muntean et al., 2011). Zircon U-Pb ages were calculated using multiple SHRIMP-RG spot analyses of each sample for two Carlin biotite porphyry dikes, two Battle Mountain porphyry dikes and the granodiorite of the Copper Canyon stock. The new U-Pb age dates for Carlin porphyry dikes are 38.7 ± 0.5 Ma and 38.8 ± 0.4 Ma. The age of the Copper Canyon stock is 38.0 ± 0.7 Ma, and the age of the Battle Mountain porphyry dikes are 40.2 ± 0.4 Ma and 41.3 ± 0.4 Ma. The Carlin dike ages are the same age, within uncertainty, with previous studies conducted (Mortensesn et al., 2000). The productive porphyry dikes from the Battle Mountain district have Ce(IV)/Ce(III) ratios of 500 to 10000 and a wide range of (Eu/Eu*)[subscript CN] values between 0.3 and 0.7 respectively. Carlin porphyry dikes have Ce(IV)/Ce(III) values between 100 and 1000, and a more limited (Eu/Eu*)[subscript CN] range of 0.5 to 0.7. Barren Eocene intrusions at Harrison Pass and Caetano have much lower Ce(IV)/Ce(III) ratios that range from 20 to 500, and have a very large span of (Eu/Eu*)[subscript CN] from 0.03 to 0.6. Calculated Ce(IV)/Ce(III) and (Eu/Eu*)[subscript CN] of zircon of this study illustrate a distinction between productive and barren intrusions in northern Nevada, and demonstrate a geochemical link between porphyry type magmas and dikes associated with Carlin type gold deposits. These ratios may provide a useful means of evaluating potentially economic geologic terranes and serving as a method to infer relative oxidation state of zircon bearing intrusive rocks.
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