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Zircon U‐Pb Geochronology and Geochemical Characteristics of the Volcanic Host Rocks from the Tongyu VHMS Copper Deposit in the Western North Qinling Orogen and Their Geological Significance

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Precise in situ zircon U‐Pb dating and Lu–Hf isotopic measurement using an LA‐ICP‐MS system, whole‐rock major and trace element geochemistry and Sr–Nd isotope geochemistry were conducted on the volcanic host rocks of the Tongyu copper deposit on the basis of further understanding of its geological characteristics. Three zircon samples from the volcanic host rocks yielded 206Pb/238U weighted average ages ranging from 436±4 Ma to 440±5 Ma, which are statistically indistinguishable and coeval with the ca. 440 Ma northward subduction event of the Paleo‐Qinling oceanic slab. The volcanic host rocks were products of magmatic differentiation that evolved from basalt to andesite to dacite to rhyolite, forming an integrated tholeiitic island arc volcanic rock suite. The primitive mantle‐normalized trace element patterns for most samples show characteristics of island arc volcanic rocks, such as relative enrichment of LILE (e.g. Th, U, Pb and La) and depletion of HFSE (e.g. Nb, Ta, Ti, Zr and Hi). Discrimination diagrams of Ta/Yb vs Th/Yb, Ta vs Th, Yb vs Th/Ta, Ta/Hf vs Th/Hf, Hf/3 vs Th vs Nb/16, La vs La/Nb and Nb vs Nb/Th all suggest that both the volcanic host rocks from the Tongyu copper deposit and the volcanic rocks from the regional Xieyuguan Group were formed in an island arc environment related to subduction of an oceanic slab. Values of ISr (0.703457 to 0.708218) and ∈Nd(t) (–2 to 5.8) indicate that the source materials of volcanic rocks from the Tongyu copper deposit and the Xieyuguan Group originated from the metasomatised mantle wedge with possible crustal material assimilation. Most of the volcanic rock samples show good agreement with the values of typical island arc volcanic rocks in the ISr–∈Nd(t) diagram. The involvement of crustal‐derived material in the magma of the volcanic rocks from the Tongyu copper deposit was also reflected in the zircon ∈Hf(t) values, which range from –3.08 to 10.7, and the existence of inherited ancient xenocrystic zircon cores (2616±39 Ma and 1297±22 Ma). The mineralization of the Tongyu copper deposit shows syn‐volcanic characteristics such as layered orebodies interbedded with the volcanic rock strata, thus, the zircon U–Pb age of the volcanic host rocks can approximately represent the mineralization age of the Tongyu copper deposit. Both the Meigou pluton and the volcanic host rocks were formed during the ca. 440 Ma northward subduction of the Paleo‐Qinling Ocean when high oxygen fugacity aqueous hydrothermal fluid released by dehydration of the slab and the overlying sediments fluxed into the mantle wedge, triggered partial melting of the mantle wedge, and activated and extracted Cu and other ore‐forming elements. The magma and ore‐bearing fluid upwelled and erupted, and consequently formed the island arc volcanic rock suite and the Tongyu VHMS‐type copper deposit.
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Keywords: Lu‐Hf; Sr‐Nd isotope; VHMS‐type copper deposit; island arc environment; volcanic host rocks; zircon U‐Pb dating

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2015

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