The Nadun Cu-Au mineralization, central Tibet: Root of a high sulfidation epithermal deposit
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A new high sulfidation epithermal Cu–Au occurrence (Nadun) has been discovered adjacent to the Cretaceous Duolong porphyry Cu–Au deposit within the Bangong–Nujiang metallogenic belt, central Tibet. The Nadun Cu–Au mineralization is hosted in a tectonic–hydrothermal breccia with advanced argillic alteration, which occurs above sandstone, associated with quartz–pyrite veins. The granodiorite porphyry with strong argillic alteration yields a zircon U–Pb age of 119.1 ± 1.3 Ma, whereas the weakly argillic granodiorite porphyry intruded into the breccia has a younger age of 116.1 ± 1.3 Ma. This indicates that Cu–Au epithermal mineralization likely occurred between ~ 116 Ma and ~ 119 Ma, consistent with the duration of magmatic–hydrothermal activity at Duolong (~ 115–118 Ma), and providing evidence that Nadun and Duolong were formed during the same event. Moreover, the Nadun and Duolong porphyries have similar Hf isotopic compositions (εHf(t) values ranging from − 8.8 to 8.1; mean = 5.0 ± 1.1, n = 32), likely indicating that the deposits are comagmatic. In addition, boiling assemblages in vapor-rich inclusions coexisting with brines occur in early stage quartz–pyrite veins, and likely record phase separation at a temperature of > 550–300 °C and pressure of 700–110 bars. Most liquid-rich fluid inclusions formed at the breccia stage show similar salinity (1.7–19.3 wt.% NaCl equiv) to vapor-rich inclusions from the underlying quartz–pyrite veins, likely indicating vapor contraction during cooling at elevated presssure. This suggests that quartz–pyrite veins may act as conduits for ore-forming fluid traveling from the porphyry to the epithermal hydrothermal system. O and H isotopic compositions (δ18Ofluid = 0.42–9.71‰ and δD = − 102 to − 66‰) suggest that ore-forming fluids are dominantly from a magmatic source with a minor addition of meteoric water at a later stage. The S and Fe isotope compositions of sulfides (δ34S = − 5.9 to 0.5‰ and δ57Fe = − 2.15 to 0.17‰) decrease from the quartz–pyrite vein to breccia ore, indicating that ore-forming fluids gradually become SO42-enriched and relatively oxidized. This body of evidence suggests that the Nadun Cu–Au mineralization may represent the root of a high sulfidation epithermal deposit.
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