Gold and silver deposits related to Jurassic Patagonian volcanism: review and perspectives for exploration

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Raúl R. Fernández
Adriana Blesa
Pilar Moreira
Horacio Echeveste
Karina Mykietiuk
Pablo Andrada de Palomera
Mario Tessone


Potential for gold-silver mineralization related to Jurassic magmatism in Patagonia was only recognized 20 years ago. At the present the Au+Ag resources exceed 700 t in three world class deposits (> 100 t Au Eq), several smaller ore deposits and many prospects in exploration stage. The deposits are hosted in silicic and mesosilicic volcanic and volcanic-sedimentary Jurassic rocks (occasionally older) related to arc or back-arc settings in Andean or extra-Andean environments. The ore geology, textures, mineralogy and geochemistry of these mineralizations indicate that they are epithermal deposits, and are mainly associated to the quartz ± calcite ± adularia ± illite assemblage of the low and intermediate sulfidation types. Based on their metallic association, the deposits were divided into: a) Au-Ag and Ag>Au, b) polymetallic with Ag-Au or only Ag and, c) complex polymetallic mineralizations with Ag-Au. The deposits form tectonically controlled veins with only one example where strong lithological control dominates. The few hydrothermal minerals and hostrocks dates, suggest that the hydrothermal activity is several millions years younger than the peak magmatism. The sinter, carbonate-lacustrine deposits and silicic lithocaps related to steam-heated waters in the water table suggest regions or tectonic blocks with potential for epithermal systems at depth. The mineralizing fluids are dilute to low-intermediate salinity waters with temperatures between 160 to 330ºC. Extensional fracturing developed in the Jurassic volcanics and the influx of meteoric waters in the geothermal systems are considered the main controls in the ore genesis.

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Fernández, R. R., Blesa, A., Moreira, P., Echeveste, H., Mykietiuk, K., Andrada de Palomera, P., & Tessone, M. (2008). Gold and silver deposits related to Jurassic Patagonian volcanism: review and perspectives for exploration. Revista De La Asociación Geológica Argentina, 63(4), 665-681. Retrieved from

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