Alteration and mineralization along the central section of the Agua Rica deposit (27º26'S-66º16'O), Catamarca

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Marta Franchini


Agua Rica is aworld class Cu (Mo-Au) deposit in which the porphyry and high sulfidation epithermal stages usually distant 1 km vertically, are located at the same level of erosion. The Seca Norte porphyry in the west side of the study section, preserves relic potassic alteration of the early, high temperature stage with Cu (Mo, Au) mineralization encapsulated in a phyllic halo that has adistinct characteristic: the low to intermediate sulfidation chalcopyrite, pyrite and bornite of the early stage were reconstituted as high sulfidation covellite and pyrite. The high temperature advance argillic alteration paragenesis (andalusite and pyrophyllite ± diaspore), considered to have beenformed from condensed magmatic vapor, are preserved in the roots of the advance argillic halo and in clasts of hydrothermal breccias in the center and east sector of the section, replacing the phyllic alteration. Clasts of vuggy silicain the upper most levels of the central breccia, suggest that at lower temperatures, fluids reached very low pH. Subsequent hydrothermal brecciation, probably driven by unroofing and the mechanical energy released from the shallow magma emplacement, and fluids exsolution precipitated intermediate temperature advance argillic paragenesis (alunite + diaspore + zunyite) ascement accompanied by abundant covellite, enargite pyrite, and native sulfur (kuramite) in deepest parts of breccias. A final stage of sphalerite, emplectite, colucite, Pb and Bi-bearing sulfides, and native sulfur with goldand silver introduction in the upper breccias level, indicates a late flux of gold-rich fluids at probably lower temperatures but still high sulfide activity, considering the absence of iron in the sphalerite composition.

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Franchini, M. (2021). Alteration and mineralization along the central section of the Agua Rica deposit (27º26’S-66º16’O), Catamarca. Revista De La Asociación Geológica Argentina, 64(3), 391-408. Retrieved from

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