Rhenium-Osmium Evidence for Regional Mineralization in Southwestern North America

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Science  03 Sep 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5126, pp. 1282-1286
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5126.1282


More than 40 base metal porphyry ore deposits in southwestern North America are associated with the Laramide orogeny (about 90 million to 50 million years ago). Rhenium-osmium dates on molybdenite, a rhenium-enriched sulfide common in many of the deposits, reveal that in individual deposits mineralization occurs near the final stages of magmatic activity irrespective of the time of inception, magnitude, or duration of magmatism. Deposits that differ widely in location and in the extent and timing of magmatism have nearly identical ages for mineralization. Rhenium-osmium-ages suggest that mineralization occurred during two distinct intervals from about 74 million to 70 million years ago and from 60 million to 55 million years ago. Most deposits that formed in the oldest interval are within the older Precambrian basement of northwestern Arizona, whereas the younger deposits are restricted to the younger Precambrian basement in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Synchronous, widespread mineralization indicates that similar crust-mantle interaction occurred on a regional scale for ore deposits once thought to be the product of localized processes.