Recycled volatiles determine fertility of porphyry deposits in collisional settings

Bo Xu, Zeng Qian Hou, William L. Griffin, Yongjun Lu, Elena Belousova, Ji Feng Xu, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


An intensive study of the geochemical characteristics (including the volatile elements Cl and S) of apatite associated with porphyry deposits was undertaken to address the debate about the crust-or mantle-derivation of their copper and gold and to better understand the controls on the transport of metals in magmatic fluids in post-subduction settings. New geochemical data on apatite reveal parameters to discriminate mineralized porphyry systems across Iran and western China (Tibet and Yunnan), from coeval barren localities across this post-subduction metallogenic belt. Apatites in fertile porphyries have higher Cl and S concentrations (reflecting water-rich crystallization conditions) than those from coeval barren ones. Our new isotopic data also indicate these volatiles are likely derived from pre-enriched sub-continental lithospheric mantle, metasomatized by previous oceanic subduction. This study demonstrates that refertilization of suprasubduction lithospheric mantle during previous collision events is a prerequisite for forming post-subduction fertile porphyries, providing an evidence-based alternative to current ore-enrichment models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-661
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Mineralogist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2021


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