A downgoing Indian lithosphere control on along-strike variability of porphyry mineralization in the gangdese belt of Southern tibet

Xiang Sun, Yongjun Lu, Qiang Li, Ruyue Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The E-trending Gangdese porphyry copper belt in southern Tibet is a classic example of porphyry mineralization in a continental collision zone. New zircon U-Pb geochronological, zircon Hf-O, and bulk-rock Sr-Nd isotope data for the Miocene mineralizing intrusions from the Qulong, Zhunuo, Jiru, Chongjiang, and Lakange porphyry copper deposits and Eocene igneous rocks from the western Gangdese belt, together with literature data, show that both Paleocene-Eocene igneous rocks and Miocene granitoids exhibit coupled along-arc isotopic variations, characterized by bulk-rock εNd(t) and zircon εHf(t) values increasing from ~84° to ~92°E and then decreasing toward ~95°E. These are interpreted to reflect increasing contributions of subducted Indian continental materials from ~92° to ~84°E and from ~92° to ~95°E, respectively. The Miocene mineralizing intrusions were derived from subduction-modified Tibetan lower crust represented isotopically by the Paleocene-Eocene intrusions, with contributions from Indian plate-released fluids and mafic melts derived from mantle metasomatized by subducted Indian continental materials. Involvement of isotopically ancient Indian continental materials increased from east (Qulong) to west (Zhunuo), which is interpreted to reflect an increasingly shallower angle of the downgoing Indian slab from east to west, consistent with geophysical imaging. Exploration of Gangdese Miocene porphyry copper deposits should focus on the Paleocene-Eocene arc where the subarc mantle was mainly enriched by fluids from the subducted Neo-Tethyan oceanic slab. Neodymium-Hf isotope data for mineralizing igneous rocks from porphyry copper deposits globally show no obvious correlations with Cu endowment. Although Nd-Hf isotopes are useful for imaging lithospheric architecture through time, caution must be taken when using Nd-Hf isotopes to evaluate the potential endowment of porphyry copper deposits, because other factors such as tectonic setting, crustal thickening, magma differentiation, fluid exsolution, and ore-forming processes all play roles in determining Cu endowments and grades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages18
JournalEconomic Geology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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