Early zircon saturation in adakitic magmatic differentiation series and low Zr content of porphyry copper magmas

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Porphyry copper ore-forming magmas worldwide are chemically distinguished from ordinary arc granitoids by lower Zr and by higher Sr/Zr ratios at equivalent SiO2 contents. Low ppm Zr in zircon-saturated melts and high whole-rock Sr/Zr in granitoid samples retaining igneous plagioclase are useful discriminants of Cu-fertile intrusive complexes. These and other chemical discriminants of porphyry-copper-forming melts of tonalite-granodiorite-adamellite composition cannot develop during crystallisation-differentiation at upper-crustal pressures. They indicate unusually high dissolved H2O (≥ 9 wt%) in residual melts at depths near the base of the crust. We compare Zr behaviour during mafic-to-felsic magmatic differentiation in orogenically deforming, copper-mineralised arc segments with behaviour during differentiation in non-orogenic, unmineralised arc segments laterally adjacent along the same subduction zones. In orogenically deforming segments, horizontal compressive stress provides resistance to opening of tensile dyke fractures and promotes entrapment of mantle-derived basaltic melts in magma chambers embedded in hot country rock at Moho-vicinity depths, where magmas cool slowly and residual melts tend to last long enough to experience intermittent chamber replenishment by basaltic melts from the deeper mantle. Over several cycles of replenishment and fractional crystallisation, residual melts acquire high concentrations of inherited chemical components that were largely excluded from cumulus minerals—H2O, Cl, CO2, SO3, etc. Accumulating H2O re-orders the high-pressure crystallisation sequence of igneous minerals in successive cycles and leads to early and prolific production of hornblende and early zircon saturation in mafic melts (< 60 wt% SiO2) of later cycles and leads to low Zr contents of zircon-saturated intermediate-composition residual melts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1381-1393
Number of pages13
JournalMineralium Deposita
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2023


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