Carmacks Copper Cu-Au-Ag Deposit: Mineralization and Postore Migmatization of a Stikine Arc Porphyry Copper System in Yukon, Canada

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Late Triassic to Early Jurassic porphyry Cu mineralization is common in British Columbia, yet there are few age-equivalent porphyry occurrences in Yukon. This study presents new data for the enigmatic Carmacks Copper Cu-Au-Ag deposit in south-central Yukon, Canada, which is hosted in amphibolite facies metamorphic inliers within the Early Jurassic Granite Mountain batholith. Sulfide mineralization occurs mainly as net-textured bornite and chalcopyrite in leucosome, and as chalcopyrite ± pyrite blebs and disseminations in amphibolite and quartz-plagioclase-biotite schist. Several studies suggest that the Carmacks Copper deposit and the nearby Minto deposit are related to porphyry belts in British Columbia, but constraining the timing of alteration, mineralization, and metamorphism has been difficult.

This study establishes a geologic and high-precision geochronologic framework for sulfide mineralization and its host rocks at the Carmacks Copper deposit, using Re-Os dating of molybdenite, and chemical abrasion-thermal ionization mass spectrometry (CA-TIMS) analysis of both whole zircon grains and laser-cut fragments of complexly zoned zircon grains. Our data indicate that the igneous protolith of the metamorphic inliers formed at 217.53 ± 0.16 Ma, followed by peak metamorphism at amphibolite facies at 205.82 ± 0.23 Ma, which occurred prior to Granite Mountain batholith emplacement but subsequent to Cu-Au-Ag mineralization of the protolith. An early phase of the Granite Mountain batholith was emplaced at 199.84 ± 0.14 Ma, followed by the main phase at 195 to 194 Ma. A second generation of metamorphic zircon in migmatite at 196.01 ± 0.12 Ma represents a partial melting event associated with Granite Mountain batholith emplacement.

Two petrographically distinct populations of molybdenite are present in unstrained, net-textured copper sulfides. A sample dominated by strained molybdenite yielded an 187Re/187Os age of 212.5 ± 1.0 Ma, which represents the minimum mineralization age of the protolith. A sample dominated by euhedral grains yielded an 187Re/187Os age of 198.5 ± 0.9 Ma, constraining the maximum age of sulfide remobilization. These results indicate that primary mineralization is >212.5 Ma and potentially coeval with the ~217.5 Ma generation of Late Triassic magmatism. The mineralized protolith, best interpreted as the potassic alteration zone of a Late Triassic (~217–213 Ma) porphyry Cu-Au system, was metamorphosed to amphibolite facies at ~206 Ma, and subsequently migmatized during 200 to 194 Ma intrusion of the Granite Mountain batholith. The chalcopyrite-bornite-dominant assemblage in neosome precipitated from an immiscible Cu-Fe-S melt phase that partly consumed xenocrystic molybdenite and reprecipitated new molybdenite grains.

The Carmacks Copper deposit and the related Minto deposit are remnants of a Late Triassic porphyry belt, where a significant fraction of the original metal endowment was likely lost through digestion of mineralized rocks by midcrustal magma in the Early Jurassic. These Yukon deposits are rare examples of metamorphosed porphyry Cu systems in the global geologic record, where rapid tectonic burial following mineralization was the principal factor in their preservation.