Modeling the Formation of Porphyry-Copper Ores

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Science  21 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6114, pp. 1551-1552
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231706

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Porphyry-copper ore systems, the source of much of the world's copper and molybdenum, form when metal-bearing fluids are expelled from shallow, degassing magmas. On page 1613 of this issue, Weis et al. (1) demonstrate that self-organizing processes focus metal deposition. Specifically, their simulation studies indicate that ores develop as consequences of dynamic variations in rock permeability driven by injection of volatile species from rising magmas. Scenarios with a static permeability structure could not reproduce key field observations, whereas dynamic permeability responses to magmatic-fluid injection localized a metal-precipitation front where enrichment by a factor of 103 could be achieved [for an overview of their numerical-simulation model CSMP++, see (2)].