GEOMORPHOLOGY

Constraining erosion rates with copper

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Science  12 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6240, pp. 1219
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6240.1219-f

The location of copper deposits would seem to have little to tell us about the role of climate on mountain erosion. However, Yanites and Kesler suggest that precipitation plays the key role in exhuming porphyry copper deposits. Porphyry deposits are the prime source of copper ore and form at about 2 km depth from hydrothermal fluids released from nearby magma bodies. An estimate of the long-term erosion rate is possible for deposits exposed at the surface, then, as long as the formation age is known. High precipitation rates, such as those that occur near the equator, not only allow rapid exhumation but also reduce the regional density of deposits.

Nat. Geosci. 10.1038/ngeo2429 (2015).

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