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The Aguablanca Ni–(Cu) sulfide deposit, SW Spain: geologic and geochemical controls and the relationship with a midcrustal layered mafic complex

Tornos Arroyo, Fernando and Galindo Francisco, Mª del Carmen and Casquet, César and Rodríguez Pevida, Luis and Martínez Chaparro, César and Martínez Colado, Enrique and Velasco Roldán, Francisco and Iriondo, Alexander (2006) The Aguablanca Ni–(Cu) sulfide deposit, SW Spain: geologic and geochemical controls and the relationship with a midcrustal layered mafic complex. Mineralium deposita, 41 . pp. 737-769. ISSN 0026-4598

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The Aguablanca Ni–(Cu) sulfide deposit is
hosted by a breccia pipe within a gabbro–diorite pluton.
The deposit probably formed due to the disruption of a
partially crystallized layered mafic complex at about 12–
19 km depth and the subsequent emplacement of melts and
breccias at shallow levels (<2 km). The ore-hosting breccias
are interpreted as fragments of an ultramafic cumulate,
which were transported to the near surface along with a
molten sulfide melt. Phlogopite Ar–Ar ages are 341–
332 Ma in the breccia pipe, and 338–334 Ma in the layered
mafic complex, and are similar to recently reported U–Pb
ages of the host Aguablanca Stock and other nearby calcalkaline
metaluminous intrusions (ca. 350–330 Ma). Ore
deposition resulted from the combination of two critical
factors, the emplacement of a layered mafic complex deep
in the continental crust and the development of small
dilational structures along transcrustal strike-slip faults that
triggered the forceful intrusion of magmas to shallow
levels. The emplacement of basaltic magmas in the lower
middle crust was accompanied by major interaction with
the host rocks, immiscibility of a sulfide melt, and the
formation of a magma chamber with ultramafic cumulates
and sulfide melt at the bottom and a vertically zoned mafic
to intermediate magmas above. Dismembered bodies of
mafic/ultramafic rocks thought to be parts of the complex
crop out about 50 km southwest of the deposit in a
tectonically uplifted block (Cortegana Igneous Complex,
Aracena Massif). Reactivation of Variscan structures that
merged at the depth of the mafic complex led to sequential
extraction of melts, cumulates, and sulfide magma. Lithogeochemistry
and Sr and Nd isotope data of the Aguablanca
Stock reflect the mixing from two distinct reservoirs, i.e.,
an evolved siliciclastic middle-upper continental crust and a
primitive tholeiitic melt. Crustal contamination in the deep
magma chamber was so intense that orthopyroxene
replaced olivine as the main mineral phase controlling the early fractional crystallization of the melt. Geochemical
evidence includes enrichment in SiO2 and incompatible
elements, and Sr and Nd isotope compositions (87Sr/86Sri
0.708–0.710; 143Nd/144Ndi 0.512–0.513). However, rocks
of the Cortegana Igneous Complex have low initial
87Sr/86Sr and high initial 143Nd/144Nd values suggesting
contamination by lower crustal rocks. Comparison of the
geochemical and geological features of igneous rocks in the
Aguablanca deposit and the Cortegana Igneous Complex
indicates that, although probably part of the same magmatic
system, they are rather different and the rocks of the
Cortegana Igneous Complex were not the direct source of
the Aguablanca deposit. Crust–magma interaction was a
complex process, and the generation of orebodies was
controlled by local but highly variable factors. The model
for the formation of the Aguablanca deposit presented in
this study implies that dense sulfide melts can effectively
travel long distances through the continental crust and that
dilational zones within compressional belts can effectively
focus such melt transport into shallow environments.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:The original publication is available at
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nickel, Magmatic sulfide deposits, Sulfide immiscibility, Aguablanca, Spain
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Petrology
ID Code:11641
Deposited On:23 Nov 2010 13:33
Last Modified:23 Nov 2010 13:33

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