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Journal of Santh American Earth Sciences,Vol. I. No. 1, pp. 89-108, 1988 0895-9811/88 $3.00+ 0.

Printed in Great Britain PergamonJournalsLtd

Epochs of intrusion-related copper mineralization in

the Andes
8 West Hill Park, Highgate Village, London N6 6ND, England
(Received for publication M a y 1987)

Abstract---Seventy-fourcopper deposits and prospects related intimately to intrusive activity in the Andes
have been dated radiometrically during the last 18 years by many different investigators, most of whom
used the K-Ar method. The results are summarized and some of their local and regional implications are
reviewed. A number of copper deposits, mainly of the porphyry type, were emplaced in, or near to, pre-
mineral volcanic sequences and (or)equigranular plutons. Such precursor volcanism lasted for as long as 9
Ma, and preceded mineralization by intervalsof from lessthan I M a to as much as 9 Ma. Precursor plntons
were emplaced no more than 2 to 3 M a prior to mineralization at several localitiesin Chile, but possibly as
long as 10 to 30 M a earlierin parts of Colombia and Peru. The time separating emplacement of progenitor
stocks and hydrothermal alteration and accompanying copper mineralization, and the duration of
alteration-mineralization sequences generally are both less than the analytical uncertainty of the K-Ar
method. However, on the basis of a detailed study of the Julcani vein system in Peru and less clearcut
evidence from elsewhere, it m a y be concluded that alteration and copper mineralization followed stock or
dome emplacement by substantially lessthan I M a and lasted for 0.5 to 2 M a and, locally,possibly as long
as 3 Ma. At several localities,post-mineral magmatic activitycould not be separated by the K-Ar method
from the preceding alteration-mineralization events. As many as nine epochs of copper mineralization,
ranging in age from late Paleozoic to late Pliocene-Pleistecene,are recognizable in the central Andes of
Chile, Peru, Bolivia,and Argentina, and at leastfour somewhat differentepochs characterize the northern
Andes of Colombia. Each epoch coincides with a discrete linear sub-belt,some of which extend for more
than 2000 k m along the length of the orogen. More than 90% of Andean copper resources, mainly as
porphyry deposits, are confined to three Cenozoic sub-belts of Paleocene-early Eocene (66-52 Ma), late
Eocene-early Oligocene (42-31 Ma), and middle Miocene-early Pliocene (16-5 Ma) ages in southern Peru
and Chile. The scarcity of porphyry copper deposits and the increase of plutsn-related copper veins in
Jurassic and Cretaceous sub-beltsfarther west in the central Andes isbelieved to be due to deeper levelsof
erosion. In the central Andes, copper sub-belts became progressively younger eastward in response to the
effectsofa compressional tectonicregime imposed on the overriding South American plate,following mid-
Cretaceous opening of the South Atlantic Ocean basin. A marked eastward breakout of middle Miocene-
early Pliocene copper mineralization up to 300 k m into western Argentina and Bolivia isattributed to rapid
subduction of young buoyant oceanic lithosphere during the Miocene. A contrasting migration pattern of
copper sub-beltscharacterized the northern Andes, where an early Cretaceous to early Eocene trenchward
shiftisthought to have been caused by accretion of oceanic terranes to the continental edge. The observed
distributionof copper sub-belts reflectsthe tectonicsegmentation of the Andes. Three first-ordersegments
are defined by the well-known Huancabamba and Abancay Deflections, at latitudes 5~S and 14S,
respectively. Each first-ordersegment is characterized by a profoundly differentdistribution,timing and,
in part, style of copper mineralization, and by distinctcopper endowments. Anomalous patterns of sub-
belts abut both deflections. Several second-order boundaries appear to have caused more subtle changes
along individual copper sub-belts. Additional programs of radiometric dating, on both local and regional
scales, are required before the migration and segmentation of copper (and associated metallogenic) sub-
belts in the Andes are properly defined and understood.
R e s u m e n w s e e p. 108

INTRODUCTION Peru skarn-type and enargite-bearing replacement

copper deposits also possess economic importance
THE A N D E A N countries account for 2 6 % of the (see Sillitoe,in press). Intrusion-related veins and
western world's production, and approximately 40% breccia pipes are widespread but contain relatively
of its resources, of metallic copper. Although nearly small tonnages of copper. The other principal types
all Andean copper production and some 95% of the of copper deposits in the Andes -- manto, red bed and
metal's resources are restricted to Chile and Peru, Kuroko types -- are considered to lack a direct rela-
major unworked deposits also are present in Argen- tionship with intrusive rocks (Sillitoe,in press), and
tina, Ecuador, and Colombia (Figs. 1 and 2). Ninety- therefore are not included in this review.
seven percent of Andean copper production to date Hypogene copper mineralization at 74 localitiesin
plus reserves are contributed by deposits related the Andes is known to this writer to have been dated
directly to intrusive activity. The copper and any radiometrically by a number of different investiga-
associated metals in these deposits are believed to tors during the past 18 years. Since the firstdeposits,
have been precipitated from hydrothermal fluids of Michiquillay, Toquepala, and Yauricocha in Peru,
direct magmatic parentage. Pre-eminent throughout were dated by Gilettiand Day (1968) and Laughlin et
the Andes are porphyry copper deposits, although in al. (1968), radiometric ages have been furnished for
90 R. t-l. SH Lrl'Ol<:

'1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

o 500 krn 3 (55)

t J
I":1 Medellln

_ 5
pl Bogot6

"10 "0


tE . ~.~-.,"
Porphyry copper 0
Skarn copper Z ~ A
Enargite-bearing replacement O e
(. Vein copper
Carnegie // ECUADOR ~"
Ridge Guoyaquil .,,." Number in Table 1 16
Approx. radiometricage (m.y.) (78)
{11) . +/~"
(./~" ~ ./" _ h a m b o
Late Riocene-Pleistocene
_ 5
Middle Miocene-Early Pliocene
Late Eocene-Early Oligocene
Early-Middle Eocene R
P++j Paleocene-EarlyEocene I:: ":i !I
PER U Early Cretaceous
] ] (75)


~ 2 1 1
22(33) / ") 0


[ La Paz

t L

8o~ 75- ~ ~l CHILE

I J , +

Fig. 1. Ages of copper mineralization in the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The numbers denoting copper deposits and
prospects are keyed to names in Table 1. Mineralization ages are approximated from data in Table 1. Positions of age sub-belts
influenced by interpretations of Sillitoe et aL (1982) and Petersen and Vidal (1983). Also shown are the approximate locations of the
Huancabamba and Abancay Deflections.
Epochs of intrusion-related copper mineralization in the Andes 91

most of the region's major copper deposits as well as Teniente). Furthermore, the general concordance
for a representative selection of small deposits, between the results obtained for mineral pairs dated
prospects, and occurrences (Figs. 1 and 2; Table 1). by the K-Ar method and b e t w e e n the r e s u l t s
Although most of the ages available are for obtained by different dating techniques confirms a
mineralized centers of porphyry type, all other types relatively shallow (epizonal) emplacement level for
of intrusion-related copper deposits in the Andes also the intrusions and associated copper deposits and an
have been dated (Figs. 1 and 2), including some absence of subsequent heating events. Even when
(Colqui, San Cristhbal, Julcani, Huar6n) in which the ages assigned to mineralized centers are based on
copper is not the principal contained metal. More only one or two radiometric determinations, confi-
than 10 radiometric ages are now available for the dence is instilled in most of the data by the coherent
major porphyry copper deposits and their associated regional time/space patterns that have e m e r g e d
magmatic rocks at Chuquicamata, Rio Blanco-Los (Figs. 1 and 2).
Bronces, and El Teniente, as well as for the copper- Notwithstanding the apparent overall reliability
bearing base- and precious-metal vein deposit at of the radiometric ages obtained for Andean copper
Julcani (Table 1). Most of the dating work has deposits, a few localities have yielded results that are
utilized the K-Ar method, but results determined of doubtful validity or are, at best, difficult to inter-
using this technique have been confirmed by Rb-Sr pret unambiguously. Most noteworthy among these
isochron ages at El Salvador (Gustafson and Hunt, are: Michiquillay, for which both Laughlin et al.
19755 and Toquepala (Beckinsale et al., 1985), and a (1968) and Shibata and Uchida (19765 obtained dis-
U-Pb age on zircons at Cerro Verde-Santa Rosa cordant ages and the emplacement age of the por-
(Mukasa and Tilton, 1985). phyry copper deposit remains in doubt; and Quella-
The ages assigned to deposits were obtained on veco, for which Zimmermann and Kihien Collado
minerals (or,rarely, whole rocks) from ore-related in- (1983) presented an unacceptably large spread of late
trusive rocks or on hydrothermal alteration minerals Cretaceous-early Tertiary ages for volcanic, intru-
associated closely with copper ore (or protore). Ore- sive, and altered rocks, although their mean age for
related intrusions may have pre-dated ore formation the deposit is eminently reasonable and accords well
and acted as progenitors, or may have been emplaced with that given by Estrada (1975).
during (inter-mineral) or after (post-mineral) the
alteration and mineralization. The hydrothermal al-
teration types dated most commonly are K-silicate, LOCAL IMPLICATIONS
sericitic, and advanced argillic. For a few deposits,
ages for equigranular intrusive rocks and (or) vol- Volcanic precursors
canic rocks that pre-dated stock emplacement and
ore formation also are considered. In Table 1, radio- Several copper deposits in the Andes have been
metric ages are allotted to these various volcanic, shown by radiometric dating to be associated spa-
intrusive, and alteration categories. All ages deter- tially with, and commonly to be hosted by, volcanic
mined prior to 1977 have been recalculated using the precursors. At E1 Salvador, El Indio, Los Pelambres,
constants recommended by Steiger and J~ger (1977). E1 Teniente, and Rio de Las Vacas, copper minera-
In the text, ages are related to the time-scale of the lization was the culmination of extended periods of
Geological Society of America (1983). subaerial volcanism, which lasted for at least 5 to 9
Andesitic volcanic rocks generally were dated Ma (Table 15. In central Chile and the contiguous
using hornblende concentrates, whereas both horn- parts of Argentina, emplacement of the porphyry
blende and (or) biotite were utilized to date plutons, copper deposits at Los Pelambres (and El PachSn),
stocks, domes, and dikes. Hydrothermal biotite and Rio Blanco-Los Bronces, El Teniente, and Rio de Las
sericite (muscovite) were the minerals most com- Vacas concluded an interval of widespread, pre-
monly separated for the K-Ar dating of hydrothermal dominantly andesitic volcanism that constructed the
alteration, although K-feldspar and alunite also have regionally extensive Farellones Formation (cf.,
been used successfully. The minerals dated are not Munizaga and Vicente, 19825. The Cerro de Las
specified in Table 1 but may be determined by refer- TSrtolas Formation that preceded epithermal vein
ence to the original sources listed for each minera- formation at E1 Indio is likely to have been a north-
lized center. In many cases, these sources also pro- ward c o n t i n u a t i o n of the s a m e volcanic belt
vide analytical data and details of the laboratory (Maksaev et al., 1984). In the Farall6n Negro dis-
procedures employed. trict, however, volcanic activity preceding porphyry
From Table 1 it may be appreciated that the radio- copper emplacement constructed an isolated com-
metric ages obtained for individual mineralized posite stratovolcano and probably was substantially
centers generally are internally consistent and are shorter-lived (Table 1, nos. 56, 57, and 585.
taken to approximate the ages of volcanism, intru- On the basis of the data available in Table 1,
sion, and (or) alteration-mineralization. This consis- volcanism in the general region of the Los Pelambres
tency is illustrated best by the deposits for which the deposit was active during stock emplacement and
largest number of ages is available, especially if the associated mineralization, whereas elsewhere it
work was undertaken by different investigators (e.g., ceased from less than I M a (El Indio) to as much as 9
E1 Abra, Chuquicamata, Rio Blanco-Los Bronces, El M a (Rio Blanco-Los Bronces) earlier. It should be
T a b l e 1. C o m p i l a t i o n of r a d i o m e t r i c a g e s for i n t r u s i o n - r e l a t e d c o p p e r d e p o s i t s a n d a s s o c i a t e d r o c k s f r o m t h e A n d e s ~:~
( a g e s in Ma by K - A r m e t h o d u n l e s s s t a t e d o t h e r w i s e ) .

N o . in Precursor Inter-
Figs. Volcanic Precursor Ore-Related K-Silicate Sericitic Mineral Post-Mineral
1 &2 Deposit Rocks Pluton Intrusion Alteration Alteration Intrusion Intrusion D a t a Source(s)

1 Acandi 48.1 +- 1.0 Sillitoe et al., 1982
2 California 200 7 to 144 3 Goldsmith et al., 1971;
176 6 Sillitoe et al., 1982
3 Murind5 54.7 1.3 Sillitoe et al., 1982
4 Pantanos- 42.7 + 0.9 Sillitoe etal., 1982
5 Infierno-Chili 151 4 to 146 3; ~ Barrero and Vesga,
145 4; 131 + 2 1976; Sillitoe et al.,
146 9; 1982; McCourt et al.,
146 5; 1984
145 9
6 Dolores 166 4 Sillitoe et al., 1982
7 Piedrasentada 17.4 0.4 Sillitoe et al., 1982
8 Mocoa 210 :t: 4; 183 + 3 to Jaramillo et al., 1980;
198 4 170 2; Sillitoe et al., 1982
166 4

Chaucha 12.8 1; Mifller-Kahle and
Damon, 1970; Snelting, H
10.0 + 0.3 0

10 Miehiquillay 47.5 1.8 28.9 4.9; 19.2 1.4 L a u g h l i n et al., 1968;
21.1 0.6 Shibata and Uchida,
11 Pashpap 14.7 0.2 D. C. Noble and E. H.
McKee, written
commun., 1985
12 Antamina ~ 1 0 . 4 + 0.4 to 9.1 0 . 4 ~ MeKee et al., 1979
13 Cerro de Pasco 15.2 + 0.22; 15.6 0.2 Silberman and Noble,
14.8 0.42; 1977
14.6 + 0.42
14 Colquijirca 11.5 0.4 z 13.0 0.4~; Vidal et al., 1984
11.0 + 0.33;
10.6 + 0.35
14a HuarSn 10.3 1.0 Thouvenin, 1984
15 Colqui 10.9 0.5; Kamilli and Ohmoto,
10.3 0.5 1977
16 Toro Mocho 8.5 0.3; 7.4 0.3 Eyzaguirre et al., 1975
8.4 0.2
17 San Crist6bal 5.4 Bartlett and Field, 1984
18 Yauricocha 7.9 0.4 Giletti and Day, 1968
19 Julcani 10.13 + 0.032 9.83 0.08; s 10.10 0.4 9.67 + 0.05 Noble and Silberman,
9.46 + 0.28; * 1984
9.39 0.28 ~
20 Ccarhuarso 1.8 to 2.2 1.2 0.13 D. C. Noble, E. H.
McKee, and C. Vidal,
pers. commun., 1985
21 Chalcobamba 32.6 1.0 Noble et al., 1984
22 Tintaya 33.4 -I- 1.0; 34.7 + 1.0; Noble et al., 1984
32.5 1.0 33.7 1.0;
32.5 1.0
23a Quechua 58 (?) 38 Yoshikawa et al., 1976
23b Coroccohuayco 54 (?) 31 Yoshikawa et al., 1976 t}
24 Cerro Verde- 60.4 3.0 67 1" s 60 I s 59.7 2.4; Estrada, 1969, 1975,
Santa Rosa 62 21~ 58.3 1.9 1977; Bellon and
60.3 2.0; Lei~vre, 1976; -p
58.2 + 2.0 Beekinsale et al., 1985;
Mukasa and Tilton, rJ~
1985 3"
25a Cuajone 59.3 + 2.0 52.2 1.6 McBride, 1977; Sebrier
et al., 1983
25b Quellaveco 55.1 2.3 53.6 11.6 Estrada, 1975;
55.4 + 2.1 Zimmermann and
Kihien Collado, 1983 t~
26 Toquepala 61 4; 6 57.5 56 Laughlin et al., 1968; ~o
60.1 1.8; McBride, 1977;
58.6 =[: 1.9 Beckinsah et al., 1985

27 Mocha 58.0 + 2.6; Sillitoe, 19817
57.8 0.9
28 Queen Elizabeth 37.1 0.6 Sillitoe, 1981 c-P
29 La Planada 31.9 -I- 0.7 Sillitoe, 1981
30 Quebrada Blanca - - 38 -I- 2 Hunt et al., 1983
31a Puntillas 132 8 Munizaga et al., 1985
31b Gatico 167 7 a Bori~ et al., 1985

1. Hybrid sample that yielded age of precursor pluton (Sillitoe et al., 1982).
2. Volcanic domes not subvolcanic stocks.
3. Alunite-bearing advanced argillic alteration.
4. Late-stage adularia alteration.
5. Zircon U-Pb age.
6. Rb-Sr isochron age.
7. Most ages presented by Sillitoe (1981) were first reported without geologic context by Quirt et al. (1971).
8. Hydrothermal amphibole from vein filling. tD
Table 1 (continued)

No. in Precursor Ore- Inter- Post-

Figs. Volcanic Precursor Related K-Silicate Sericitic Mineral Mineral
l&2 Deposit Rocks Pluton Intrusion Alteration Alteration Intrusion Intrusion Data Source(s)

C H I L E (cont):
32 El A b r a 35.3 0.5 36.3 to 34.3; 36.8 0.7 A m b r u s , 1977;
34.0 0.5 Sillitoe, 1981

33 Chuquicamata 38.0 0.3; 33.8 1.3 34.4 + 0.9; 31.0 :t: 1.2; A m b r u s , 1977;
37.8 0.6; 32.6 0.9; 29.9 0.5; Alvarez et al., 1980;
36.2 1.4; 31.2 1.3 28.0 1.1 Silltoe, 1981
35.9 0.1
34 Imilac 255; 9 292; 9 Halpern, 1978
2419 281 g
35 La Escondida 34.6 1.8; 31.6 Alpers, 1986;Ojeda,
33.7; 31.0 1986
33.6 1.7;
- 32.8;
31.9 1.2
31.8 1.2
36 El Salvador 49.3 _+ 2.8; 6 43.1 1.3; 41.8 _+_ 1.3 41.8 0.5 43.1 2.8; 41.9 ~ 0.5 Gustafson and HunL
44.4 +_ 1.46 41.5 1.9; 40.1 0.6 1975; Silltoe, 1981
40.6 0.4; 6
40.6 0.6
37 Potrerillos 38.6 +_ 0.6 34.9 0.5 Silltoe, 1981
38 S a n Pedro de 66.5 1.0 Silltoe, 1981
39 Caehiyuyo de 62.1 1.0 F a r r a r et al., 1970
40 Cabeza de Vaca 63.5 7.0 Silltoe et al., 1968
41 Domeyko 106 10; M u n i z a g a et al., 1985
97 20
42 Pajonales 971 97 20 M u n i z a g a et al., 1985
43 Los Loros 91.1 0.6 Silltoe, 1981
44 El Indio 16.6 0.7 to 12.6 0.6 10.7 0.71 8.6 0.4 A r a n e d a , 1982;
11.0 0.5 M a k s a e v et al., 1984
45 Andacollo 105 3 112 10 M u n i z a g a et al., 1985
46 La Loica 35.3 0.5 Silltoe, 1981
47 Llamuco 63.5 1.0 Silltoe, 1981
48 Los Pelambres 17to8 10.2 0.2; Silltoe, 1981; M u n i z a g a
9.9 0.2 a n d Vicente, 1982;
V e r g a r a et al., 1985
49 Rio Blanco-Los 22 to 16 2 0 . 1 2.0 to 5.15 0.2 5.2 0.3 4.6 O.i 5.0 0.2 Lo D r a k e et al., 1976;
Bronces 8.609' 3.9 0.112 V e r g a r a a n d Drake,
7.4 0~1 ~ 1979; Blondel, 1980;
Silltoe, 198_13V e r g a r a
et al., 1985; W a r n a a r s
el al., 1985
50 El Teniente 14 to 7.4 7.4 + 1.5; : 5 4.8 + 0.2; 5.7 + 0.2;1 3.8 + 0.3 Charrier and Munizaga,
(10.9 + 0.4, 7.1 + 1.0:3 4.7 + 0.2; 4.7 + 0.3;1 1979; Silltoe, 1981;
10.2 + 0.5 4.7 + 0.2; 4.7 + 0.2;1 Clark et al., 1983;
nearby) 4.7 + 0.2; 4.5 + 0.21~ Vergara et al., 1985;
4.6 + 0.3; Cuadra, 1986
4.6 + 0.3;
4.4 + 0.4;
4.0 + 0.4
51 Estero San Jos~ 85.4 + 5.2; Alfaro, 1980
83.9 3.8
52 Galletud 85.1 3.0; 90.4 + 3.6; Alfaro, 1980
80.7 + 1.3; 73.0 + 1.8
77.5 + 2.3;
77.2 + 1.1


53 Pancho Arias 15.8 ~- 0.3 o

Silltoe, 1977
54 Taca Taca 329 + 5 Silltoe, 1977
55 Inca Viejo 15.4 + 0.2 Silltoe, 1977 C
58 Bajo del Durazno 8.1 + 0.1 Caelles et al., 1971
57 Bajo de Pampitas 11.0 + 0.3 7.9 + 0.3
McBHde, 1972
58 Bsjo de San Lucas 7.3 + 0.1 Caelles et aL, 1971
59 Mi Vida 7.0 0.4 McBride, 1972
60 Los Bayos 5.8 + 0.2 McBride, 1972
61 Arroyo Chita 12.0 + 0.3 Silltoe, 1977
62 Alcaparrosa o
272 + 4 Silltoe, 1977
63 Cerro Mercedario 13.3 + 0.3 Silltoe, 1977
64 San Jorge, 275 + 4 Silltoe, 1977
65 Paramillos Norte 16.4 + 0.3 Silltoe, 1977
66 Rio de Las Vacas 15.8 + 2.2 to 8.7 + 0.2 Silltoe, 1977; Ramos
9.6 + 2.2 et al., 1985 o
(9.8 + 0.7)
67 Campana 76.0 + 1.4 Silltoe, 1977
Mahuida ~r
68 La Voluntad 287 + 4 Silltoe, 1977
69 Laurani 8.2 + 0.3 McBride, 1977
70 La Joya 14.3 + 0.4 15.7 + 0.5 Redwood, 1986

9. Very approximate Rb-Sr age.

10. Propylitic alteration.
11. Warnaars et al. (1985) concluded that magmatic biotite dated by Vergara and Drake (1979) from this sample was reset by hydrothermal activity.
12. La Copa Formation (Stambuk et al., 1982): a post-mineral diatreme.
13. AgeofK-silicate alteration linked genetically with precursor intrusion (Cuadra, 1986).
14. Age ofsericitic alteration associated with emplacement of Braden pipe: a late-mineral diatreme.
96 )~.[! ~ILLFrO~:

PERU "a%
.',, Arequip
~(.s9 .. ~{~,~),,/ ."
~ ~
Lo Paz
- - = 69(8)"~
\ . ----70(14)I
\ |
20 ~ 281~7)
k ~9(32)

I i '~or.
38) - -
I l

I 3~o11,! 3~Ib__ '~'~,_. /'"

/ 31U16~ 33(32)
:~ # Y
I ~. ~ :--~'-
Antofag( !

4= Salta
~ I ~,~
~1 i~3 'L
San Miguel de
I i37(35) Tucum6n

~ 5 8

30 J 42 Middle Miocene-Early P/iocene
U.. J 43 ( 91!,~
o Late Eocene-Early Oligocene
Paleocene - Early Eocene
Late Cretaceous
Early Cretaceous
1,65 (~6)
Late Carboniferous - Early Permian
j ~' ' Mendoza
) SantiagoH
/ // 5o(5~ Major porphyry copper deposit Q
35 / Minor porphyry copper deposit or prospect 0
C H I L E "{~------'t Major tourmaline breccia copper deposit
~;-! Minor tourmaline breccia copper deposit or prospect A
Concepci6n~L . ~ ~ Vein copper deposit

'NJ 68(287) Approx. rodiometric age (my.)



75 {I ) 70o 65
I |. I c

Fig. 2. Ages of copper mineralization in the Andes of Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. The numbers denoting copper deposits and
prospects are keyed to names in Table I. Mineralization ages are approximated from data in Table I. Positions of age sub-belts
modified after Sillitoe(1981 ).
Epochs of intrusion-related copper mineralization in the Andes 97

emphasized, however, that available radiometric al., 1982; Table I); however, Rb-Sr ages are required
ages are few in number and the youngest portions of before any firm conclusions can be drawn In con-
the volcanic sequences may have been removed by trast, the more abundant data available for Peru and
erosion. Chile suggest that pluton emplacement took place no
Apparently similar volcanic precursors are sug- more than about 2 to 3 M a prior to porphyry copper
gested by limited K-Ar dating to exist as the formation at Cerro Verde-Santa Rosa, Toquepala,
Toquepala Group in the vicinities of the Paleocene- Chuquicamata, Rio Blanco-Los Bronces, and El Ten-
early Eocene porphyry copper deposits of southern iente and, at El Abra, cannot be separated in time
Peru (Bellon and Lef~vre, 1976; Sebrier et aL, 1983; from the mineralizing event (Table 1). At Chuquica-
Zimmermann and Kihien Collado, 1983; Table 1), mata, a difference of about 3 M a between the ages of
and on the basis of stratigraphic relations as the the Fortuna granodiorite and stock emplacement-
Saldafia (Post-Payand~) Formation near the Mocoa mineralization is compelling (Fig 3), especially as
deposit in southern Colombia (Sillitoeeta[., 1982). the data were generated in at least three different
In the case of many other copper deposits, nearby laboratories. At El Teniente, about 2.5 M a separated
volcanic sequences remain undated, whereas K-silicate alteration of the precursor Sewell diorite
elsewhere (e.g., the late Eocene-early Oligocene and the main phase of K-silicate alteration and
porphyry copper deposits of northern Chile; Fig. 2) copper mineralization associated with intrusion of
volcanic rocks that might possess a temporal the Teniente porphyry (Cuadra, 1986; Table 1). In
relationship with copper mineralization either are the case of Toquepala, this conclusion derives
absent or, at best, are poorly preserved. additional support from the available Rb-Sr isochron
ages (Beckinsale et al., 1985; Table 1). In the case of
Plutonic precursors Cerro Verde-Santa Rosa, however, a U-Pb age on
zircons suggests a time gap of about 7 M a between
Equigranular plutons of intermediate composi- emplacement of the precursor Yarabamba grano-
tion are located near, and commonly act as host rocks diorite and the porphyry copper stock (Mukasa and
for, copper-bearing stocks in various parts of Colom- Tilton, 1985), whereas an interval of approximately 2
bia, Peru, and Chile and have been dated radio- to 3 M a is suggested by the K-Ar and Rb-Sr results
metrically from the vicinities of 14 deposits. The (Beckinsale et al.,1985). It remains to be determined
results (Table 1) show that these plutons were era- whether the hydrothermal system responsible for
placed over different time intervals, and preceded porphyry copper generation was capable of resetting
stock emplacement and associated copper minera- the Rb-Sr isochron ages of the precursor plutons at
lization by various amounts. Cerro Verde-Santa Rosa and elsewhere At the
In Colombia, the very limited data suggest that Michiquillay and Quechua porphyry copper prospects
significant time gaps, of the order of 10 to 30 Ma, and at the Coroccohuayco copper skarn, precursor
separated the emplacement of precursor plutons from plutons may pre-date copper mineralization by
the generation of porphyry copper deposits (Sillitoe et appreciable amounts (-20 Ma; Table 1),but published

-.~ . . . . . SERICITIC A L T E R A T I O N - - - - - - D , -

! 0 I

m - - .-,. K - SILICATE A L T E R A T I O N . . . . . D.~

; ,

l 0 I
-~e . . . . ( FORTUNA )-- -- --J~-

. J

40 38 3 34 32 3 28 2 m.y.
Fig. 3. Plot of individual K-Ar ages (double dots) and corresponding analytical uncertainties (bars) for the pre-mineral (precursor)
Fortuna granodiorite, ore-related intrusion, K-silicate and sericitic alteration at the Chuquicamata porphyry copper deposit, Chile.
Data t a k e n from Table 1.
SAF.~ I / I ~

ages for these deposits are inconsistent and some- age determinations is clearly too small to be able to
what equivocal. draw any firm conclusions.
Most of the ages determined for precursor plutons A comparable difficulty in deciphering the time
in Peru and Chile demonstrate emplacement during relations of m a g m a t i s m and alteration-minera.~
very short time intervals. However, the San Fran- lization also is evident for copper deposits exposed at
cisco batholith in the vicinity of the Rio Blanco-Los very shallow crustal levels and a s s o c i a t e d with
Bronces porphyry copper deposit is an obvious excep- volcanic domes, as at Colquijirca (Vidal et al., 1984),
tion: it was emplaced during a period of about 12 Ma where overlap occurs between the ages determined
(Warnaars et aI., 1985; Table 1) and appears to be for magmatic biotite and sanidine from volcanic
coeval, at least in part, with volcanic rocks of the domes and for hydrothermal alunite (Table l). At
Farellones Formation. It is likely, however, that Julcani, however, Noble and Silberman (1984) deter-
many of the dated precursor plutons were only the mined a time difference of 0.30_+ 0.16 Ma (at the 90%
final phases of more extended periods of igneous confidence level) between the mean ages of dome
intrusion. emplacement and quartz-alunite-pyrite alteration.
The more restricted time intervals between pre- It may be reasonably concluded t h a t hydro-
cursor plutons and emplacement of several porphyry thermal a l t e r a t i o n and m i n e r a l i z a t i o n in most
copper deposits in Peru and Chile add support to the porphyry-, skarn-, replacement-, and vein-type cop-
notion that copper-bearing fluids were supplied from per deposits in the Andes took place during the
batholiths b e n e a t h the m i n e r a l i z e d centers, as cooling histories of their p r o g e n i t o r stocks (cf.,
modeled recently by Damon (1986). If correctly Damon and Mauger, 1966) and followed s t o c k
dated, the precursor plutons in Colombia could not emplacement by very short time intervals, probably
have acted in this capacity, although the existence substantially less than 1 Ma, in accord with K-At
(say, at depth) of additional intrusions more closely studies undertaken on porphyry copper d e p o s i t s
related in time to the porphyry copper mineralization elsewhere in the world (e.g., Warnaars et ai., 1978)
cannot be ruled out. In view of such small time differences, it is not
significant for regional metallogenic studies (see
Stock emplacement and alteration-mineralization below) whether magmatic minerals from a porphyry
stock, hydrothermal alteration products, or a mix-
On the basis of the limited data available from ture of both are separated for age determination. In
Andean deposits (Table 1), it is generally impossible fact, as recently emphasized by Skewes (1985), bio-
to distinguish between the times of emplacement of tite extracted for K-Ar dating from porphyry copper
porphyry stocks and the porphyry- or skarn-type deposits is very likely to be a composite of magmatic
alteration and copper mineralization for which they and hydrothermal products. However, her choice of
acted as progenitors. Radiometric ages for these two Los Pelambres as an example of a deposit in which a
events generally either overlap each other or are mixture of several types of magmatic and hydro-
essentially coincident. Even where careful studies thermal biotite had been concentrated to yield the
supported by a detailed geologic framework have two published K-At ages (Table 1) was unfortunate.
been carried out, as at E1 Salvador, the time dif- Those ages are not a v e r a g e s for m a g m a t i c and
ferences, if any, between stock intrusion and por- hydrothermal events, as asserted by Skewes (1985),
phyry copper generation were within the limits of but accurately represent an early phase of K-silicate
uncertainty of the age determinations. Measurable alteration because they were determined on coarse
time gaps b e t w e e n stock e m p l a c e m e n t and al- (several cm) flakes of biotite hand-picked from
teration-mineralization are suggested, however, at pegmatitic veinlets and pods (Sillitoe, 198 l)
Potrerillos and E1 Indio (Table 1), but the number of

5 j..
0 III m - - mm

l mm m ml
i,u 280 ' 3~0

o -m-n-

0 m m. , m m
m i
4~ do ~2o

Fig. 4. H i s t o g r a m of a p p r o x i m a t e a g e s of c o p p e r mineralization in the northern a n d central A n d e s . A g e data taken from Table I and
approximated as in Figs. I and 2.
Epochs of intrusion-relatedcopper mineralization in the Andes 99

Alteration-mineralization sequences remains uncertain, although at Cerro de Pasco it was

explained by assuming incorporation of a m i n o r
Most A n d e a n p o r p h y r y copper deposits a r e amount of extraneous 40Ar (Silberman and Noble,
characterized by both K-silicate and sericitic altera- 1977).
tion, and several of them also contain advanced The tendency for pest-mineral intrusions to yield
argillic alteration. All three alteration types may be anomalously old ages is not shared by: E1 Salvador
associated with copper mineralization. At a few and La Escondida (Table 1), where post-mineral
deposits, two or more of these alteration types have intrusion was essentially the same age as, or very
been dated radiometrically (Table 1). However, as slightly younger than, the alteration events; Julcani
with stock e m p l a c e m e n t and a l t e r a t i o n - m i n e r a - (Table 1), where Noble and Silberman (1984) cal-
l i z a t i o n (see above), the t i m e gaps b e t w e e n culated a time gap of 0.25_+0.18 Ma between ad-
generation of the alteration types commonly are vanced argillic alteration and post-ore intrusion; or
irresolvable with the K-Ar method. Ages for K- E1 Teniente (Table 1), where a barren lamprophyre
silicate, sericitic, and advanced argillic alteration at dike is about 1 Ma younger t h a n the alteration-
E1 Salvador were considered by Gustafson and Hunt mineralization event (Cuadra, 1986).
(1975) to be essentially the same within the limits of
experimental error, as are those for selected samples
of K-silicate and sericitic alteration at Rio Blanco- REGIONAL IMPLICATIONS
Los Bronces and E1Teniente (Table 1). However, the
existing radiometric d a t a for E1 Salvador were Time~space relations
reinterpreted by Silberman (1985) to show that the
hydrothermal system there was active for about 2 On the basis of the data summarized in Table 1, an
Ma. This estimate is not dissimilar to that of at least approximate mineralization age is assigned to each
2.5 Ma made on the basis of the data summarized in dated copper deposit and prospect. These ages are
Table 1 by Warnaars et al. (1985) for the duration of plotted on Figs. 1 and 2 and used to construct the
hydrothermal activity at the Rio Blanco-Los Bronces histogram presented as Fig. 4.
porphyry copper deposit. At Chuquicamata, a time In the central Andes, the mineralization a g e s
difference of about 3 Ma is discernable between the define three epochs of copper mineralization during
mean ages of K-silicate and sericitic events (Table 1; the Cenozoic and suggest the existence of at least six
Fig. 3). more from the late Paleozoic onward (Fig. 4). In the
In the case of the vein-type copper mineralization northern Andes of Colombia, four epochs of copper
of Julcani, pre-ore quartz-alunite-pyrite alteration mineralization are s u g g e s t e d d u r i n g the Meso-
and post-ore adularia alteration bracket a time in- Cenozoic (Fig. 4). The three reasonably well-defined
terval of 0.42_+0.18 Ma, and the h y d r o t h e r m a l Cenozoic epochs of copper m i n e r a l i z a t i o n in the
system is thought to have been active for at least 0.4 central Andes lasted for 11 to 14 Ma and were sepa-
Ma and possibly about 0.7 Ma (Noble and Silberman, rated by quiescent i n t e r v a l s of about the s a m e
1984). On the basis of two K-Ar age determinations, duration (Fig. 4).
some 2 Ma could have separated sericitization associ- On maps of the Andes, the mineralization ages
ated with epithermal gold-silver-copper vein forma- combine to define a series of longitudinal metallo-
tion and earlier propylitic alteration at E1 Indio genic sub-belts that are roughly p a r a l l e l to the
(Araneda, 1982), but further work is required before continental margin and the Peru-Chile trench (Figs.
any firm conclusions can be drawn. 1 and 2). Each epoch of copper mineralization is seen
Although the database is limited, it may be to have occupied a specific sub-belt, and only a
inferred that the alteration sequences associated limited amount of overlap is apparent between the
with individual Andean copper deposits, like those Meso-Cenozoic sub-belts (Figs. 1 and 2). Sub-belts
elsewhere in the world (see Noble and Silberman, range in approximate width from 25 to 350 k m as
1984; Silberman, 1985), generally required about 2 drawn on Figs. 1 and 2, but no precise measurements
Ma or less for their development. It remains a pos- of their actual widths or of any gaps between sub-
sibility, however, that hydrothermal activity lasted belts can be made because of the limited number of
somewhat longer at C h u q u i c a m a t a , the world's radiometric ages available. Sub-belts are markedly
largest copper deposit. linear, and some apparently are continuous for more
than 2000 km (Figs. 1 and 2).
Post-mineral intrusions The epochs and corresponding sub-belts of copper
mineralization, especially those in Chile-Argentina,
At 7 copper deposits, essentially barren magma- are reminiscent of the intrusion epochs and sub-belts
tic rocks, emplaced after most of the alteration and defined in parts of the region by F a r r a r et al. (1970)
mineralization were completed, have been dated and many subsequent investigators. However, intru-
radiometrically. At three of these localities - - Cerro sion epochs and sub-belts t e n d to be of l o n g e r
de Pasco, E1 Abra, and Rio Blanco-Los Bronces - - at duration and greater width, respectively, than their
least some of the resulting K-Ar ages are slightly cupriferous counterparts (cf,, Drake et al., 1982; Borid
older t h a n those yielded by n e a r b y alteration et al., 1985; Parada et al., 1985). In part this un-
minerals (Table 1). The reason for this anomaly doubtedly is due to the greater abundance of intru-
100 R. It. SmLl'r()~:

sion ages than mineralization ages, but it could also change along the Paleocene-early Eocene sub-belt
indicate that copper mineralization (in particular, from mainly porphyry copper.-type mineralization in
porphyry copper emplacement) was both spatially southern Peru and northern Chile to a dominance of
and temporally more restricted than intrusive acti- swarms of tourmaline breccia pipes f a r t h e r south
vity. (Fig 2) could also be due to an increase of erosion
In the central Andes, nearly all major copper level; however, this change may also be ascribed to
deposits, p r i n c i p a l l y of p o r p h y r y type but also differences in magmatic and (or) ore formational
including skarns and enargite-bearing replacements processes, as is the polymetallic character of the
in Peru, are restricted to the three well defined central Peruvian part of the middle Miocene-early
Cenozoic sub-belts: Paleocene-early Eocene (66-52 Pliocene copper sub-belt. The process(es) responsible
Ms), late Eocene-early Oligoeene (42-31 Ma), and for changes in metallogenie character along indi-
middle Miocene-early Pliocene (16-5 Ms). These vidual sub-belts remains to be determined, but it is
three sub-belts account for more than 90 % of Andean suggested that variation in magma chemistry due Uo
copper resources. The five largest copper deposits in changes in subduction style is a prime factor i n
the Andes (Sillitoe, in press) are components of the flueneing metallogenie change (see below).
late Eocene-early Oligocene ( C h u q u i e a m a t a , La The present writer considers that the paucity of
Escondida) and middle Miocene-early Pliocene (Los major intrusion-related copper deposits of Mesozoic
Pelambres, Rio Blanco-Los Bronces, El Teniente) age in coastal Chile and Peru (Figs. i and 2) is a
sub-belts (Fig. 2). These last three large porphyry consequence of the overall westward increase in
copper deposits, as well as the El Indio bonanza Au- erosion level (Sillitoe, 1972 and in press). Cenozoic
Ag-Cu vein deposit, are located along the western sub-belts underwent variable, but relatively minor
boundary of the middle Miocene-early Pliocene sub- (say, 3 kin j, erosion so that many porphyry-type
belt. Copper mineralization up to 350 km farther deposits were unroofed and are still preserved In
east in this sub-belt (Fig. 2) is generally minor, and contrast, Mesozoic sub-belts farther wesL generally
only the Bajo de La Alumbrera porphyry copper (in were more deeply eroded, which resulted in removal
the Farall6n Negro district along with nos. 56, 57, of major porphyry copper deposits (except a~, An-
and 58 in Table 1) constitutes a significant deposit. dacollo; Fig. 2) and exposure of many small-tonnage,
This eastward diminution in the size of copper pluton-related vein copper deposits Only one of
deposits could be attributed to a parallel reduction in these, at Gatieo (Table 1), has been dated radio-
the quantity of volatiles generated on the subdueted m e t r i c a l l y - as late middle Jurassic, but~ many more
slab and available to flux partial melting in the are believed to be early Mesozoic in age. When radio-
overlying mantle wedge. metric ages become available, it is predicted t h a t
However, in central and northern Peru, no such these vein-type deposits will help to define Jurassic
eastward decrease in the size of middle Mioeene- through Early Cretaceous mineralization epochs
early Pliocene copper deposits is discernable, al- coincident with one or more sub-belts west of" the
though the width of the entire sub-belt is also much Late Cretaceous (112-73 Ma) sub-belt depicted on
less than that farther south (Fig. 1). Moreover, the Fig. 2. It should be noted, however, that some wor~
middle Miocene-early Pliocene sub-belt in central kers prefer a geotectonic rather than an erosional
Peru (and Bolivia) is notably more polymetallic in explanation for the paucity in coastal Chile and Peru
character and is richer in lead, zinc, and silver than of pro-Late Cretaceous porphyry copper deposits,
its c o u n t e r p a r t in A r g e n t i n a and c o n t i g u o u s which they feel were not widely generated because of
e a s t e r n m o s t Chile or, for t h a t m a t t e r , its con- the existence of an e x t e n s i o n a l and not a com~
tinuation in northern Peru. A continuous middle pressional stress regime at the plate edge (Munizaga
Miocene-early Pliocene metallogenic sub-belt is et al., 1985).
considered to extend from northwestern Argentina Andean copper deposits less than about 4 Ma old
through western Bolivia and southeastern Peru into generally are absent because they are yet to be
eentral Peru. Its central part, in southeastern Peru, unroofed. An exception to this generalization is
is not depicted on Figs. 1 and 2 because none of the known from southern Peru, where a s h o r t iate
very few intrusion-related copper deposits has been Pliocene-Pleistocene sub-belt associated with andesi-
d a t e d r a d i o m e t r i c a l l y ; in fact, m e t a l l o g e n y is tic volcanism contains enargite-bearing vein minera-
dominated by silver. lization (Petersen and Vidal, 1983; F i g !
Some n o r t h - s o u t h c h a n g e s in the s t y l e s of Pre-Mesozoic copper prospects are known only
mineralization along individual sub-belts may be from western Argentina and contiguous Chile. A
attributed, at least in part, to an increase in the Late Carboniferous-Early P e r m i a n (287-272 Ma)
depth of erosion. A good example is provided by the epoch of mineralization is reasonably well defined
western boundary zone of the middle Miocene-early (Table 1; Fig. 2), but only a single K-Ar minimum
Pliocene sub-belt along the Chile-Argentina frontier. age of 329 + 5 Ma from Taca Taca (no. 54, Fig. 2) is
At approximately latitude 31S, a southward de- available to support the presence of an Early Car-
crease in the amount of shallow-level, epithermal boniferous epoch. An Ordovician Rb-Sr isochron age
gold-silver mineralization of E1 Indio type is ap- was determined recently from the vicinity of Taca
parent (Fig. 2) as the effects of glaeial erosion during Taca (J. Viramonte and 3. Salfity, pers comm.,
the P~io-Pleistocene become more profound. The 1985), but it is still uncertain - - given ~he complex
Epochs of intrusion-related copper mineralization in the Andes 101

magmatic relationships in the area - - whether the the subduction zone is inferred to have flattened
early Carboniferous age correctly represents the time (Pilger, 1981). More specifically, the initiation of a
of emplacement of the copper-bearing intrusion at compressive stress regime in the overriding South
Taca Taca or is merely the result of a subsequent American plate may have been triggered by an
heating event. Although the scarcity of pre-Mesozoic increase in the length of the South A t l a n t i c
copper mineralization in the Andes may be attri- spreading center (Kominz, 1984) and a concomitant
buted to removal by erosion or concealment beneath increase in subduction rates at the Peru-Chile trench
Meso-Cenozoic rocks, this writer prefers a more fun- (Larson and Pitman, 1972) about 110 Ma ago (see
damental explanation based on the different magma Dalziel, 1985). Episodic flattening of the underthrust
chemistry of the Paleozoic intrusions (Sillitoe, in plate, tectonic erosion of the leading edge of the
press), which commonly appear to be characterized overriding plate (Rutland, 1971), transform displace-
by lower Fe203/Fe0 ratios (Ishihara et al., 1984) and ment of lithospheric slivers from the leading edge of
apparently higher initial 87Sr/86Sr ratios (e.g., the overriding plate during intervals of oblique
Parada et al., 1985). subduction (Karig, 1974), and pulses of compressive
In the n o r t h e r n Andes, north of the Gulf of tectonism within the overriding plate (e.g., Dalziel,
Guayaquil, copper mineralization has been dated 1985) all may have contributed to the e a s t w a r d
radiometrically only in Colombia (and contiguous migrations of the copper sub-belts. Indeed some sort
Panama) and southern Ecuador; no data are known of connection between copper mineralization and
to be available from Venezuela or much of Ecuador compressive tectonism is suggested by the broad
(Fig. 1). Of the four epochs and corresponding sub- coincidence between the late Eocene-early Oligocene
belts of copper mineralization distinguished ten- (42-31 Ma) and middle Miocene-early Pliocene (16-5
tatively in Colombia (Figs. 1 and 4), an early-middle Ma) sub-belts of the central Andes and the Incaic (~44
Eocene (55-43 Ma) sub-belt along the Cordillera Ma) and Quechua 2 (~9.5 Ma)-Quechua 3 (~6 Ma)
Occidental and a Jurassic sub-belt that includes the orogenic phases defined by McKee and Noble (e.g.,
country's principal porphyry copper deposit at Mocoa 1985). Nevertheless, the specific factor(s) responsible
in the southern part of the Cordillera Oriental con- for the cessation of copper mineralization in any
tain most of the known copper resources (Sillitoe et particular central Andean sub-belt, the ensuing ~ 10
al., 1982). Ma of metallogenic quiescence, and the recrudes-
The Mesozoic copper sub-belts of Colombia appear cence of mineralization at sites farther east (Figs. 2
to extend northeastward into the Andes of western and 4) are not always evident.
Venezuela, where minor copper occurrences of pos- tlowever, the eastward jump to produce the
sible porphyry type have been discovered recently extremely wide (up to 350 km) middle Miocene-early
(S. E. Rodriguez, pers. comm., 1985). The early- Pliocene copper sub-belt (Figs. 2 and 5) may be attri-
middle Eocene sub-belt possesses present-day con- buted to further flattening of the underthrust slab in
tinuity with the eastern isthmus of Panama (Sillitoe response to plate reorganization in the eastern Paci-
et al., 1982; Fig. 1). Intrusive sub-belts of Jurassic fic and a concomitant increase in subduction rate
and Miocene ages in northern Ecuador (Hall and (Clark et al., 1976; Sillitoe, 1976). Pilger (1984)
Calle, 1982) appear to be the southward continua- calculated that during the period from 25 to 10 Ma
tions of their copper-bearing Colombian counter- and, to a lesser extent, until 5 Ma, the convergence
parts. rate normal to the Chilean portion of the trench axis
was extraordinarily high, attaining 14 cm yr -1. In
Migration of sub-belts contrast, the convergence r a t e n o r m a l to the
Peruvian portion of the trench showed only a slight
The loci of intrusion-related copper mineralization increase during that time, which may provide an
in the Andes shifted with time, although the migra- explanation for the much reduced width of the middle
tion patterns varied along the length of the orogc;~ Miocene-early Pliocene copper sub-belt in central
(Figs. 1, 2, and 5). In the central Andes of Chile and and northern Peru (Figs. 1 and 5; cf., Pilger, 1984).
Argentina, an episodic eastward progression of Wortel and Vlaar (1978) have proposed, however,
copper sub-belts during the Meso-Cenozoic is appar- that flattening of the slab during the Miocene was
ent (Figs. 2 and 5), which is comparable to the east- due largely to the greater buoyancy of a progres-
ward migration of post-Paleozoic intrusive activity in sively younger and warmer descending plate rather
the same region (Farrar et al., 1970; and subsequent than to the rate of descent. In marked contrast,
workers). Jarrard (1986) concluded from a global survey of
This pattern of eastward migrations may be subduction zones that shallow slab dips are a product
ascribed to the poorly constrained consequences of of extended durations of subduction (at least 200 Ma
the westward motion of the South American plate, a in the Andes) and seem to be unrelated to either slab
process that was initiated during the mid-Cretaceous age (and temperature) or convergence rate.
onset of sea-floor spreading to produce the South It should be mentioned that intrusive rocks
Atlantic Ocean basin. At that time, the Andean emplaced during the 26 to 16 Ma interval are found
margin changed in character from extensional to in several parts of the central Andes within, or near
compressional, or Mariana-type to Chilean-type to the western boundary of, the 16 to 5 Ma copper
using the scheme of Uyeda and Kanamori (1979), and sub-belt (e.g., Drake et al., 1982; McKee and Noble,

1985; Parada et al., 1985}, but nowhere (except between the Early Cretaceous and the early Eocene
possibly at Michiquillay; Table l, Fig. 1) are they (Fig. 5), may be ascribed to accretion of allochthonous
known to be the hosts for significant copper deposits. oceanic terranes, which constitute the western side of
Therefore, the first few million y e a r s of rapid the Cordillera Central and the entire Cordillera
convergence during the late Oligocene-early Miocene Occidental (Sillitoe et al., 1982; McCourt et al., 1984;
apparently were not conducive to generation of Aspden and McCourt, 1986). The landward shift
copper mineralization. exhibited by the middle-late Miocene sub-belt pro-
Compared with the porphyry copper-rich part of bably was due to the same increase in convergence
the late Eocene-early Oligocene sub-belt in northern rate that so profoundly affected the central Andes at
Chile, its skarn-rich continuation in southern Peru is that time.
nearly twice as wide besides being located about 100
km farther from the Peru-Chile trench (Figs. 1 and Segmentation of sub-belts
5). As proposed by Noble et al. (1984), these features
may be explained by a more gentle dip of at least the A tectonic, stratigraphic, magmatic, and metallo-
near-trench portion of the slab that descended genic segmentation of the Andes, first proposed in
beneath this part of southern Peru during the late generalized form by Sillitoe (1974), has been con-
E o c e n e - e a r l y Oligocene, although the angle of
descent apparently was not as low across its full east-
west extent as that beneath Chile-Argentina in the J~ ANDIESmc VOLCANIC BELT
middle Miocene-early Pliocene. It should be noted, COPPER SUB - BELT
however, that the extremely rapid ( 1 8 c m yr-~1) 5
subduction rate at the Peru-Chile trench from about 0 NORTHERN CHILE
110 to 85 Ma (Larson and Pitman, 1972) apparently
did not cause the same degree of flattening of the
subducted slab as during the middle Miocene-early
Pliocene, to judge by the relatively narrow Late
Cretaceous sub-belt, except perhaps south of latitude
36S where the width could be even greater than SO-

depicted (Fig. 2).

In western Bolivia and northwestern Argentina I ! I
0 , i i
(north of lat. 28S), the main locus of magmatism 200

retreated westward during the Pliocene, possibly in Krn. East of Trench

response to a decrease of convergence rate (Pilger,

1981, 1984; Pollitz, 1986), and gave rise to a narrow
linear belt of andesitic volcanism (Fig. 5). However, SOUTHERN PERU

farther south, between latitudes 28 and 33S, the 100

slab continued to flatten (to -5), possibly because of
the increased buoyancy of the underthrust J u a n
Fernandez seamount chain (Pilger, 1981, 1984), and " "'"-r-q
all magmatism and any associated copper minera- /
lization ceased 5 to 6 Ma ago (Fig. 2; cf., Kay and i/ i - ! T - - -
200 400
Gordillo, 1985). Therefore, there is no intrusion-
Kin. East of Trench
related copper mineralization younger than ~5 Ma
anywhere in western Argentina (Fig. 2). A similar
argument may be applied to northern and central ?00" COLOMBIA
Peru (lat. 2-15S), where the apparent extinction of
copper mineralization at about the same time (Table []
1; Fig. 1) could be ascribed to the onset of ultra- d
shallow subduction (Barazangi and Isacks, 1976),
possibly because of the influence of the aseismic
Nazca Ridge (Pilger, 1981, 1984; Fig. 1).
In the northern Andes of Colombia (and probably

50- [3
also of Ecuador north of the Gulf of Guayaquil}, the \
migration pattern of copper sub-belts is markedly
different from that in the central Andes (Figs. 1 and 2OO 600

5). From the d urassic to the early Eocene, the loci of INFERRED
Km East of Trench

intrusion-related copper mineralization shifted west- TRENCH AXIS

ward, whereas from the middle Eocene to the Pleisto- Fig. 5. Generalized representation of the migration patterns of
cene there was an e a s t w a r d p r o g r e s s i o n c o m p a r a b l e copper sub-belts in northern Chile, southern Peru, and Colombia.
to that w h i c h c h a r a c t e r i z e d m u c h o f C h i l e - A r g e n t i n a Pile-Pleistocene andesitic volcanic belts, within which copper
deposits are believed to be in the process of formation or still
during the Mesa-Cenozoic. The trenchward migra- largely concealed, also are depicted.
tion of the copper sub-belts, at least the major jump
Epochs of intrusion-related copper mineralization in the Andes 103

firmed but somewhat modified by s u b s e q u e n t Colombia, the northward continuation of the middle
detailed studies (e.g., Barazangi and Isacks, 1976; Miocene-early Pliocene sub-belt of Peru, or a short
Cobbing et al., 1977; Jordan et al., 1983; Soler et al., separate sub-belt in the anomalous segment associ-
1986). ated with the Huancabamba Deflection; the first
It is clear from Figs. 1 and 2 that the distribution, alternative is favored at present.
character, and timing of intrusion-related copper In addition to the control exerted by the two major
deposits, and overall copper endowment were in- segment boundaries, a number of second-order boun-
fluenced by segmentation of the Andean orogen. daries also may be recognized tentatively on the
Certain terminations of copper sub-belts and changes basis of evidence from individual sub-belts. Ex-
in style or timing of mineralization along individual amples (Figs. I and 2) include: (i) the southward
sub-belts are believed to be controlled by transverse change in position (farther east), orientation (from
boundaries between tectonic segments. north to northwest), and age (112-91 to 85-73 Ma) of
The two most important boundaries from the the Late Cretaceous sub-belt somewhere between
standpoint of intrusion-related copper mineralization latitudes 32 and 36S (cf., Munizaga et a[., 1985);
appear to be in the general vicinities of the Huanca- (ii)the southward termination of the late Eocene-
bamba and Abancay Deflections (Fig. 1). These two early Oligocene sub-belt at about latitude 3130S, in
boundaries subdivide the Andean copper belt into accord with an absence of intrusive rocks of that age
three first-order segments: (i) between latitudes 14 between at least latitudes 31030 and 36S (Drake et
and 35S, where the majority of copper resources a/., 1982; Munizaga and Vicente, 1982); (iii)the
occur largely as porphyry deposits in four eastward- southward change in the predominant style of copper
younging, Late Cretaceous to middle Miocene-early mineralization (porphyry to breccia pipes; see above)
Pliocene sub-belts; (ii) between latitudes 5 and 14S, and possibly age (59-52 to 66-62 Ma) of the
where a much smaller tonnage of copper metal is Paleocene-early Eocene sub-belt somewhere between
present in a variety of largely polymetallic deposits latitudes 21 and 27S; (iv)the apparent northward
restricted to the middle Miocene-early Pliocene sub- termination, or possibly eastward offset (Noble et al.,
belt; and (iii) between latitudes 7N and 5S, where a 1984), of the Paleocene-early Eocene sub-belt at
minor percentage of Andean copper resources is con- latitude 16S (cf., Soler et al., 1986); and (v)the
tained in at least four sub-belts that exhibit a more northward reduction in the polymetallic character of
complex space/time pattern. the middle Miocene-early Pliocene sub-belt at about
Both of the first-order boundaries are difficult to latitude 9S (cf.,Soler et al., 1986).
position unambiguously through the Meso-Cenozoic It is concluded that the first-orderboundaries were
and appear to be associated spatially with short long-lived (at least 60 Ma), although not necessarily
segments in which sub-belts are characterized by continuously active, divisions between the principal
anomalous space/time patterns. Thus, the Abancay segments of the orogen. Each segment was charac-
Deflection, although acting as the southern boundary terized by a different subduction history and, con-
of the middle Miocene-early Pliocene copper sub-belt sequently, a different space/time pattern of intrusion
and the northern boundary of both the late Eocene- and copper mineralization. The longevity of these
early Oligocene and late Pliocene-Pleistocene sub- major boundaries would seem to require that the
belts (Fig. 1), is adjoined to the south, between lati- continental lithosphere was capable of influencing
tudes 14 and 16S, by a pattern of sub-belts that profoundly the style of subduction beneath it (cf.,
differs from, albeit is akin to, that farther south in M~gard, 1978; Jordan et al., 1983; Noble et al., 1984).
Chile-Argentina. In this anomalous segment south The short, anomalous segments that adjoin the first-
of the deflection, the Paleocene-early Eocene sub-belt order boundaries are of uncertain significance but
either is absent or poorly mineralized; the late may, in part, be due to geometrical constraints im-
Eocene-early Oligocene sub-belt is dominated by posed on the descending plate by the changes in
skarn deposits, is abnormally wide and is displaced strike of the orogen that are associated with the
eastward; and the late Pliocene-Pleistocene sub-belt deflections. The second-order boundaries appear to
is displaced westward (Figs. 1 and 5). have been shorter-lived (say, 10 Ma) and perhaps
In the case of the Huancabamba Deflection, it is more diffuse, and possibly could have reflected dis-
more difficult to pinpoint the first-order metallogenic continuities, such as transform faults, that origin-
boundary because of the paucity of dated copper ated in the descending plate. It might be speculated
mineralization. However, based on the information that the southward termination of the late Eocene-
shown on Fig. 1 and the radiometric ages available early Oligocene sub-belt about latitude 3130'S was
for magamtic rocks in Ecuador (Hall and Calle, due to the presence south of that latitude of a very
1982), the boundary is drawn near the Peru-Ecuador shallowly dipping u n d e r t h r u s t slab, like t h a t
frontier and is thought to be followed northward, beneath the Andes from latitudes 28 to 33S today.
between approximately latitudes 3 and 5S, by an In this regard, it is instructive to note that only
anomalous pattern of sub-belts. At this early stage of some of the possible second-order boundaries coincide
understanding, it is unclear whether the middle Mio- with segment boundaries defined using other para-
cene Chaucha porphyry copper prospect (no. 9, Fig. 1} meters, such as the geometry of the currently
and associated intrusive rocks are the southward descending slab (Barazangi and Isacks, 1978), or the
continuation of the middle-late Miocene sub-belt of distribution of super-units in the Late Cretaceous-

early Tertiary Coastal Batholith of Peru (Cobbing et substantial amount of radiometric dating already
al., 1977). Examples of second-order boundaries that completed there (Table 1).
coincide approximately with segment boundaries 5) Collect material such as h y d r o t h e r m a l horn-
defined previously include: the possible northern blende, actinolite, or phlogopite for K-Ar dating of
termination or offset of the Paleocene-early Eocene the Cobriza copper skarn deposit located on the
copper sub-belt with the b o u n d a r y b e t w e e n the eastern boundary of the middle Miocene-early
Arequipa and Toquepala segments of the Coastal Pliocene sub-belt of central Peru, some 125 kin
Batholith and the southern limit of the flat slab in east of Yauricocha (Fig. l). Although spatially
northern and central Peru; and the change in char- associated with the middle Miocene-early Pliocene
acter of the Late Cretaceous copper sub-belt at the copper sub-belt, there is no firm evidence that
southern limit of the flat slab in north-central Chile. copper mineralization is of that age: nor is the
mineralization evidently related to known intru-
sive rocks, namely a pluton 1 km distant which
SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE WORK was considered on stratigraphic grounds to be of
late Cretaceous age (M6gard, 1978) but is possibly
Local studies older on the basis of a K-At minimum age of 256
Ma (Stewart et al., 1974) for a similar nearby
An effort should be made w h e n e v e r Andean pluton.
magmatic rocks are sampled for radiometric dating 6) Conduct further radiometric studies of the main
to collect material that will provide an age for any porphyry copper deposits in northern Peru in order
associated copper (or other metallic) mineralization. to resolve the conflicting K-Ar ages available for
When the radiometric ages are reported, all analy- Michiquillay (Table l; Fig. 1) and to provide ages
tical data, including the constants employed, should for the La Granja and Cafiariaco deposits 100 to
be listed. The following specific geochronologic 150 km farther north-northwest.
studies are recommended: 7) Date the newly discovered porphyry-type occur-
rences of possible early Mesozoic age in the Vene-
1) Carry out additional radiometric dating, by both zuelan Andes.
K-Ar and Rb-Sr methods, at the Chuquicamata
porphyry copper deposit to confirm the reality of Regional studies
the time differences shown in Fig. 3 between pre-
cursor pluton emplacement, stock intrusion, and In order to complete the geochronologic coverage of
K-silicate and sericitic alteration. intrusion-related copper deposits in the Andes, the
2) Select one or more porphyry copper deposits for following work is required:
detailed K-Ar (and 40Ar/39Ar) dating studies, in
the manner adopted for the Julcani vein system by l) Select and date representative copper prospects
Noble and Silberman (1984), with a view to deter- and occurrences in Ecuador; these are most abun-
mining the duration of hydrothermal activity. A dant in the anomalous segment immediately north
middle Miocene-early Pliocene rather than an of the It uancabamba Deflection.
older deposit is preferred because of the smaller 2) Attempt to obtain more age determinations from
analytical uncertainties that will be attached to small intrusion-related copper deposits in coastal
the K-Ar results. A well-documented deposit, such Peru and Chile in order to better understand the
as E1 Teniente, Rio Blanco-Los Bronces, or Los Mesozoic epochs of copper mineralization.
Pelambres-E1 Pach6n (Fig. 2), would be ideal. 3) Select and date copper prospects and occurrences
3) Using K-Ar, Rb-Sr, and U-Pb methods, attempt to in southern Chile and contiguous A r g e n t i n a to
distinguish the time differences between emplace- determine w h e t h e r the epochs and s u b - b e l t s
ment of precursor plutons and progenitor stocks. defined for northern and central Chile (Fig. 2) can
Many localities appear to be suitable geologically, be extrapolated southward, or whether the change
including Infierno-Chili, Chaucha, Tintaya, Cerro in strike and position of the Late Cretaceous sub-
Verde-Santa Rosa, Toquepala, Quebrada Blanca, belt between latitudes 32 and 36S signifies the
El Abra, Chuquicamata, Rio Blanco-Los Bronces, transition to a separate poorly mineralized copper
and El Teniente (Table 1; Figs. I and 2). province.
4) Map and sample comprehensively precursor vol- 4) Check late Paleozoic and Mesozoic K-Ar ages
canic sequences from the vicinities of porphyry a v a i l a b l e for Andean copper m i n e r a l i z a t i o n
copper deposits with a view to determining the against Rb-Sr isochrons and, wherever possible,
duration of volcanism and any time gap between U-Pb ages on zircons, because of the increased
the cessation of volcanism and stock emplacement. likelihood of subsequent reheating and consequent
Deposits in the middle Miocene-early Pliocene argon loss from pre-Cenozoic rocks. For example,
sub-belt, such as Bajo de La A l u m b r e r a , Rio it was noted above that an Ordovician Rb-Sr iso-
Blanco-Los Bronces, and E1 Teniente, would be chron was determined on intrusive rocks near (but
ideal, although further study of the Toquepala not from) the Taca Taca porphyry copper prospect,
Group in the Paleocene-early Eocene sub-belt of which was dated as early Carboniferous using the
southern Peru also is recommended because of the K-Ar method (Table 1). Similarly, it was reported
Epochs of intrusion-related copper mineralization in the Andes 105

recently that the Ibagu6 Batholith, a precursor volcano-tectonique. Comptes Rendus de l'Aeademic des Sciences,
Paris, ser. D 283, 1-4.
pluton cut by the Infierno-Chili porphyry copper
system, yielded a whole-rock Rb-Sr age of about Blondel, J. R. 1980. P6rfido de Composiei6n Granodioritiea de la
Mina Rio Blanco. Memoria de Tituio, Departamento de Geologta,
170 Ma (Restrepo et al., 1985), compared with K- Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile, 88 pp.
Ar ages of 145 to 150 Ma (Table 1); however, the
Bori~ P., R., Diaz F., F., and Maksaev J., V. 1985. Magmatic
location of the samples and the quality of the Rb- events and related metallogenesis in the Antofagasta region,
Sr determinations were not specified. northern Chile. In: Euoluci6n Magmdtica de los Andes (Edited by
Herv~, F., and Munizaga, F.). Comunicacionss (Santiago) 35, 37-
One of the principal aims of the suggested local
and regional studies is to augment the geochrono- Caeiles, J. C., Clark, A. H., Farrar, E., McBride, S. L., and Quirt, S.
1971. Potassium-argon ages of porphyry copper deposits and
logic database for intrusion-related copper minera- associated rocks in the Farallbn Negro-Capillitas district,
lization in the Andes. In conjunction with contribu- Catamarca, Argentina. Economic Geology 66, 961-964.
tions from other multidisciplinary studies, a more Charrier, R., and Munizaga, F. 1979. Edades K-Ar de volcanitas
complete geochronologic database should throw fur- cenozoicas del sector eordillerano del Rio Cachapoal, Chile (3415'
ther light on the reasons for the migration and seg- de lat. sur). Revista Geol6gica de Chile 7, 41-51.
mentation of metallogenic sub-belts in the Andean Clark, A. H., Caelles, J. C., Farrar, E., Haynes, S. J., Lortie, R. B.,
and other orogens. McBride, S. L., Quirt, S. G., Robertson, R. C. R., and Zentilli, M.
1976. Longitudinal variations in the metallogenic evolution ofthe
central Andes. In: MetaUogeny and Plate Tectonics (Edited by
Strong, D. F.). GeologicalAssociation ofCanada, SpecialPaper 14,
Acknowledgments--Gratitude is expressed to the Organizing 23-58.
Committee of the Final Symposium of IGCP Project 120, Magmatic
Evolution of the Andes, for the invitation to prepare this review Clark, A. H., Farrar, E., Camus, F., and Quirt, G. S. 1983. K-At
paper for presentation at the sessions held during November 1985, age data for the E1 Teniente porphyry copper deposit, Chile.
in Santiago, Chile. Attendance at the symposium was facilitated Economic Geology 78,1003-1006.
by funds made available by the Circum-Pacific Council for Energy Cobbing, E. J., Pitcher, W. S., and Taylor, W. P. 1977. Segments
and Mineral Resources. A valuable review of the manuscript was and superunits in the Coastal Batholith of Peru. Journal of
contributed by Marcus Zentilli, and assistance with the Spanish Geology 85,625-631.
version of the abstract was provided by Francisco Camus.
Cuadra P., C. 1986. Geocronologia K-Ar del yacimiento E1
Teniente y areas adyacentes. Revista Geolfigica de Chile 27, 3-26.
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] 08 R. It. SILLITO[';

R e s u m e n - - D u r a n t e los 01timos 18 arios, diferentes i n v e s t i g a d o r e s h a n d a t a d o r a d i o m e t r i c a m e n t e ,

m a y o r m e n t e por el metodo K-Ar, 74 dep6sitos y prospectos de cobre e s t r e c h a m e n t e asoeiados a actividad
intrusiva en los Andes. Algunos de los depbsitos cupriferos, principalmente del tipo porfidos de cobre,
fueron emplazados en, o cerca de secuencias volca.nicas y (o) plutones e q u i g r a n u l a r e s de caracter pre.
mineral. Este volcanismo dur6 tanto como 9 M a y procedio a la mineralizaci6n en intervalos que van desde
menos de 1 Ma h a s t a por lo menos 9 Ma. Los plutones se emplazaron previo a la mineralizaci6n, en varias
localidades de Chile, en no m a s de 2 a 3 Ma, pero posiblemente en 10 a 30 Ma antes, en a l g u n a s partes de
Colombia y Perd. El tiempo que separa el emplazamiento de los intrusivos progenitores y la alteracion
h i d r o t e r m a l y m i n e r a l i z a c i 6 n de cobre asociada, y la duracion de las s e c u e n c i a s de a l t e r a c i o n
mineralizacion son en ambos casos menores que el error analitico del m6todo K-Ar. Sin embargo, en base al
estudio detallado del s i s t e m a de vetas de Julcani en PerLi y a evidencias no tan definidas de otros lugares, se
puede concluir que la alteraci6n y la mineralizacion de cobre sigui6 al emplazamiento de los intrusivos (o
los domos volc~micos) en una cifra substancialmente menor a 1 Ma, y dur6 entre 0.5 y 2 Ma, llegando
localmente a alcanzar h a s t a 3 Ma. En varias localidades, la actividad m a g m a t i c a post-mineral no puede
ser s e p a r a d a temporalmente de los eventos precedentes de alteraci6n-mineralizaci6n. U n total de por lo
menos 9 epocas de mineralizacibn de cobre se ban reconocido en los Andes Centrates de Peril, Chile, Bolivia
y Argentina, y por 1o menos 4 6pocas algo diferentes caracterizan los Andes de Colombia. La edad de estas
epocas va desde el Paleozoico tardio hasta el Plioceno tardio-Pleistoceno. Cada 6poea coincide con una
distinta sub-franja linear, alguna de las cuales se extienden por m a s de 2,000 km a lo largo de la longitud
del orogeno. Mils de190 porciento de los recursos andinos de cobre se concentran en el sur del Pertiy Chile,
principalmente en la forma de p6rfidos cupriferos, y estan confinados a t r e s sub-franjas Cenozoicas de
edades Paleoceno-Eoceno inferior (66-52 Ma), Eoceno Cardio-Oligoceno ilfferior (42-31 Ma) y Mioceno
medio-Plioceno inferior (16-5 Ma). l,a escasez de dep6sitos del tipo porfido cuprifero y el incremento en el
numero de vetas de cobre relacionadas a plutones en las sub-franjas de edad J u r a s i c a y CretAcica ubicadas
m'as hacia el oeste en los Andes Centrales, se creese debe a un nivel de erosi6n m a s profmldo. En los Andes
Centrales, las sub-franjas de cobre se hacen progresivamente m a s j6venes hacia el este eta respuesta a los
efectx)s de un regimen teetonico compresivo dentro de la placa Sudamerieana que sigui6 a la apertura,
durante el Cret~cico medio, de la cuenca oceanica del Atlantieo Sur. U n a mareada m i g r a c i 6 n de la
mineralizaci6n de cobre hacia el este durante el Mioceno medio-Plioceno inferior, por cerca de 300 k m en la
parte oeste de Argentina y Bolivia, se atribuye a una rapida subducci6n, durante el Mioceno, de una
lit6sfera oceanica joven. Un cuadro de migraci6n contrastante de sub-franjas cupriferas caracteriza a la
parte norte de los Andes. Ello se habrm debido a un cambio en la fosa, durante el Crekicico inferior a
Eoceno temprano, a causa del adosamiento de terrenos oceanicos al borde continental. La distribuci6n
observada de las sub-franjas cuprifcras refleja la segment.aci6n tect6nica de los Andes. Tres s e g m e n t o s de
primer orden se definen en base a l a s conocidas Deflexiones de t t u a n c a b a m b a y Abancay en las latitudes 5
y 14S respectivamente. Cada segmento de primer orden e s t a c a r a c t e r i z a d o por u n a d i s t r i b u c i 6 u
profundamente distinta, en tiempo y, en parte, eta estilos de mineralizaci6n, y por diferentes contenidos de
cobre. Cuadros anomalos de sub-franjas se adosan a ambas Deflexiones. Varios limites e s t r u e t u r a l e s de
segundo orden parecen haber catisado cambios m a s sutiles a io largo de las s u b - f r a n j a s e u p r i f e r a s
individuales. Sc requieren programas adicionales de dataciones radiometricas, a escala local y regional, a
fin de comprender y definir apropiadamente la migracibn y segmentacion de las sub-franjas cupriferas {y ta
metalogenesis asociada) de los A nde~.