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Variation of Mo isotopes from molybdenite in high-temperature hydrothermal ore deposits

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Measurable molybdenum isotope fractionation in molybdenites from different ore deposits through time provides insights into ore genesis and a new technique to identify open-system behavior of Re–Os in molybdenites. Molybdenite samples from six porphyry copper deposits, one epithermal polymetallic vein deposit, four skarns, and three Fe-oxide Cu–Au deposits were analyzed. The δ97Mo‰ (where ) for all samples varied from 1.34 ± 0.09‰ to −0.26 ± 0.04‰. This is the largest molybdenum isotopic variation in molybdenite from high-temperature ore deposits recorded to date. δ97Mo‰ of molybdenite varies as a function of the deposit type and the rhenium and osmium concentrations of the samples. Isotope values for Mo also vary within the individual deposits. In general, molybdenites from porphyry copper deposits have the lightest values averaging 0.07 ± 0.23‰ (1σ). Molybdenites from the other deposit types average 0.49 ± 0.26‰ (1σ). The variations could be related to the fractionation of Mo into different mineral phases during the ore-forming processes. A comparison of the Mo isotope ratios and the Re–Os ages obtained from the same aliquot may possess a geochronological evaluation tool. Samples that yielded robust ages have different Mo isotopic compositions in comparison to samples that yielded geologically unreasonable ages. Another observed relationship between the Re–Os and Mo isotope data reveals a weak correspondence between Re concentration and Mo isotope composition. Molybdenites with higher concentrations of Re correspond to lighter Mo isotope values.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant nos. CHE-0431328 and EAR 05-19144. We would like to thank T. Seifert, J. Ruiz, G. Hart, G. Pierotti, J. Dague, and R. Smith for assistance in collecting the samples and helpful discussions about the topic. Finally, we appreciate the thorough review of J. Barling, associate editor F. Barra, and the editor B. Lehmann.

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Correspondence to Ryan Mathur.

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Editorial handling: F. Barra

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Mathur, R., Brantley, S., Anbar, A. et al. Variation of Mo isotopes from molybdenite in high-temperature hydrothermal ore deposits. Miner Deposita 45, 43–50 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-009-0257-z

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  • Molybdenite
  • Molybdenum isotopes
  • Re–Os geochronology