Redox-controlled generation of the giant porphyry Cu–Au deposit at Pulang, southwest China

  • Weikai Li
  • Zhiming YangEmail author
  • Kang Cao
  • Yongjun Lu
  • Maoyu Sun
Original Paper


Some porphyry Cu–Au deposits with relatively reduced ore assemblages, characterized by high hydrothermal pyrrhotite contents and a lack of primary hematite and magnetite, are generally considered to be associated with reduced I-type granitoids. However, the role of magmatic oxygen fugacity (fO2) in controlling Cu–Au mineralization in such reduced porphyry deposits is poorly understood. The giant Late Triassic (ca 216 Ma) Pulang porphyry Cu–Au deposit of southwest China shows typical reduced ore assemblages. This study reported the systematical variation of upper crustal magmatic fO2 of Pulang deposit, based on detailed investigations of mineral crystallization sequences and compositional features of the mineralization-related porphyries (early P1 and late P2 porphyry). Results indicate that magma of the mineralization-related porphyries experienced complex fO2 fluctuations during its upper crustal evolution. The early primary magma had very high initial fO2, with ΔFMQ ≥ + 3.0 at depths of > 12 km [ΔFMQ is the deviation of logfO2 from the fayalite–magnetite–quartz (FMQ) buffer]. The fO2 of evolved parental magma subsequently decreased, with ΔFMQ ≤ + 1.9, due to injection of relatively reduced dioritic magmas (ΔFMQ = + 1.4 to + 2.3) from a deeper chamber (17–21 km depth) into the primary magma chamber at 10–12 km depth. Magma mixing had largely ceased at 6–10 km depth. The parental magma then ponded within the reduced Tumugou formation at a depth of ~ 3.7 km where magmatic fO2 decreased to a moderately oxidized state (ΔFMQ = ~ + 1.6), and finally to a moderately reduced state [reflected by log(Fe2O3/FeO) ratios of < − 0.5 for P1 porphyry] due to contamination of parental magma by wall-rock Tumugou Formation. This decrease of fO2 in the parental magma resulted in separation of magmatic sulfide, and the subsequent exsolution of reduced ore fluids responsible for the generation of Pulang ore assemblages. The fO2 of the residual parental magma increased after exsolution of the reduced fluids to ΔFMQ values of + 3.2 to + 4.2 [also reflected by high log(Fe2O3/FeO) ratios of > − 0.5 for P2 porphyry]. Results of this study of magmatic fO2 indicate that porphyry magmas associated with reduced Pulang ore assemblages were initially generated as highly oxidized magma which was subsequently reduced through magma mixing and contamination by reduced sedimentary rocks of the Tumugou Formation. The sharp fO2 decrease at very shallow depth prevented the early loss of Cu and Au because the magma remained oxidized until it was emplaced at ~ 3.7 km depth. Moderately reduced magmas may thus have a genetic association with porphyry Cu–Au mineralization.


Porphyry Cu–Au deposit Oxygen fugacity (fO2Fractional crystallization Magma mixing Geothermobarometer Pulang 



This work was funded by the National Key Research and Development Project of China (2016YFC0600305), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41825005, 41320104004, 41273051, 41473041), and the Ministry of Land and Resources of China (201011011). We thank Guochen Dong, Massimo Chiaradia, Gordon Moore, Rui Wang, Fuat Yavuz, Filippo Ridolfi, Junting Qiu and Yuan Mei for suggestions of modeling, whole-rock and mineral component analyses, and Zhenyu Chen and Xiaodan Chen for assistance in EMPA analysis, and Biao Song, Shiwen Xie, Zhuoying Yu, and Yi Hu for help with SHRIMP zircon U–Pb dating and LA–ICP–MS zircon trace element analysis. Mingjian Cao and an anonymous reviewer are thanked for their thoughtful reviews. We appreciate Gordon Moore, associate editor of Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, for his constructive comments and editing. This is contribution 1231 from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems ( Yongjun Lu publish with permission of the Executive Director, Geological Survey of Western Australia. Contribution to IGCP 662.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weikai Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhiming Yang
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Kang Cao
    • 1
  • Yongjun Lu
    • 4
    • 5
  • Maoyu Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Deep-Earth Dynamics, Institute of GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Earth and Space SciencesPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Economic Geology Research Centre (EGRU), College of Science and EngineeringJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Geological Survey of Western AustraliaEast PerthAustralia
  5. 5.Centre for Exploration Targeting and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems (CCFS), School of Earth SciencesUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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