Scientific article

Magmatic sulphides in Quaternary Ecuadorian arc magmas

Published inLithos, vol. 296-299, p. 580-599
Publication date2018

New petrographic and geochemical data on magmatic sulphide inclusions (MSIs) are presented and discussed for 15 Quaternary volcanic centers of the Ecuadorian frontal, main and back volcanic arc. MSIs occur mostly in Fe–Ti oxides (magnetite and/or magnetite–ilmenite pair) and to a lesser extent in silicate minerals (amphibole, plagioclase, and pyroxene). MSIs are present in all volcanic centers ranging in composition from basalt to dacite (SiO2 = 50–67 wt.%), indicating that sulphide saturation occurs at various stages of magmatic evolution and independently from the volcano location along the volcanic arc. MSIs also occur in dioritic, gabbroic and hornblenditic magmatic enclaves of the volcanic rocks. MSIs display variable sizes (1–30 μm) and shapes (globular, ellipsoidal, angular, irregular) and occur mostly as polymineralic inclusions composed of Fe-rich and Cu-poor (pyrrhotite) and Cu-rich (mostly chalcopyrite) phases. Aerial sulphide relative abundances range from 0.3 to 7 ppm in volcanic host rocks and from 13 to 24 ppm in magmatic enclaves. Electron microprobe anal- yses of MSIs indicate maximum metal contents of Cu = 65.7 wt.%, Fe = 65.2 wt.%, Ni = 10.1 wt.% for those hosted in the volcanic rocks and of Cu = 57.7 wt.%, Fe = 60.9 wt.%, Ni = 5.1 wt.%, for those hosted in magmatic enclaves. Relationships of the sulphide chemistry to the host whole rock chemistry show that with magmatic differentia- tion (e.g., increasing SiO2) the Cu and Ni content of sulphides decrease whereas the Fe and S contents increase. The opposite behavior is observed with the increase of Cu in the whole rock, because the latter is anti- correlated with the SiO2 whole rock content. Laser ablation ICP-MS analyses of MSIs returned maximum values of PGEs and noble metals of Pd = 30 ppm, Rh = 8.1 ppm, Ag = 92.8 ppm and Au = 0.6 ppm and Pd = 43 ppm, Rh = 22.6 ppm, Ag = 89 ppm and Au = 1 ppm for those hosted in volcanic rocks and magmatic enclaves, respectively. These PGE contents display a different range of values with respect to those in pre- viously investigated magmatic sulphides. MSIs that are Cu- and PGE/Cu-rich are found in less evolved rocks (i.e., lower SiO2 contents) that also display a lower amount of sulphide inclusions. Cu-rich sulphide phases (chalcopyrite ± bornite) are mostly hosted by magnetite, whereas PGE-rich ones consist of a Cu-poor phase (pyrrhotite) hosted by plagioclase. However, no systematic changes in the chemistry of the host silicate mineral are observed in coincidence with the occurrence of MSIs. We use the results of our study to draw some implications on Cu (and other chalcophile elements) behavior during arc magmatic processes potentially associated with the formation of porphyry-type deposits.

  • Magmatic sulphide inclusions
  • Magmatic sulphide saturation
  • Calc-alkaline arc magmatism
  • Chalcophile elements
  • Magmatic enclaves
  • Porphyry Cu deposit
Citation (ISO format)
GEORGATOU, Ariadni Afroditi et al. Magmatic sulphides in Quaternary Ecuadorian arc magmas. In: Lithos, 2018, vol. 296-299, p. 580–599. doi: 10.1016/j.lithos.2017.11.019
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0024-4937

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