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lonomi Geology

Vol. 57, 1962, pp. 91-106

METALLOGENETIC
CARLOS RUIZ

PROVINCES
F. AND GEORGE

OF CHILE,
E. ERICKSEN

S. A.

CONTENTS
PAGE

Abstract ............................................................. Introduction ..........................................................

91 92

Metallogeneticprovinces ............................................... Geologyof the host rocks ............................................... Mineralogy and paragenesis ............................................ Types of deposits ......................................................
Iron ..............................................................

92 96 96 98
98

Copper ...........................................................
Cobalt Gold ............................................................

99
102

Tungsten

.........................................................

102
102

.............................................................

Molybdenum ......................................................
Lead-zinc ......................................................... Silver ............................................................

103
103 103

Mercury .......................................................... Manganese ........................................................ Classification and genesis .............................................. Summary ............................................................ Acknowledgments .....................................................
References ...........................................................
ABSTRACT

103 104 104 105 106


106

The metalliferousdeposits of Chile tend to be restrictedto well defined metallogenetic provinces,each characterizedby a dominant mineral or mineralassemblage.The mostimportantore deposits are thoseof copper, iron, silver, gold, and manganese. The primary minerals are few in number and most are simple sulfidesand oxides; more complexsulfosalts are scarce. Secondary mineralsin great variety are importantconstituents of the ores. Many of the ore depositsare situated along well definedstructural lines, several hundred kilometerslong, that parallel the structural
grain of the Andes.

The deposits, with few exceptions, are foundin sedimentary or volcanic rocks that range in age from Jurassicto Late Cretaceousor in intrusive rocksof Late Jurassicto Late Cretaceous age. Most deposits are genetically relatedto intrusivebodies, which have an averagecomposition within the range of granite-diorite.

The metalliferous deposits canbe classed as hydrothermal, sedimentary, contact-metasomatic and magmatic. Copper deposits are typically hydrothermal, manganese depositsare sedimentary, and most of the iron ore depositsare contact-metasomatic.A unique group of iron ore deposits apparently formedby near-surface intrusionand surfaceflowsof a magma
]Publication authorized by the Director, U.S.
91

Geological Survey.

92

CARLOS RUIZ F. AND GEORGE E. ERICKSEN


consisting of iron oxides. Hydrothermal deposits, the most abundantand most important economically, were formed under conditionsranging from low to high temperatureand pressure.
INTRODUCTION

A LONG-TERM systematic study of the oredeposits of Chileis at present being undertaken by the Institutode Investigaciones Geo16gicas of Chilefor thepurposeof gaining information abouthabits, types,and epochs of mineralization, localand regionalstructural control,lithologic control,origin, and reserves.
The present reportis a synthesis of the knowledge of the ore deposits of Chile basedon studies now beingcarriedout and on published and unpublished reports. The informationat hand is adequate to serveas a basisfor a preliminarysummary of the characteristics of the ore deposits.
Most of the known ore deposits of Chile are in the northern half of the country; relativelyfew have beenfound in southernChile. The paucityof known deposits in the southreflectsin part a lack of explorationcaused by inaccessibility, adverseclimate conditions, denseforest cover, and extensive
overburden.

The followingdata on metal production for the year 1959 (Servicio de Minas del Estado, 1960) indicatethe magnitude of presentday mining in
Chile:
Copper Molybdenum Lead Zinc Gold Silver Mercury Iron ore Manganese ore 548,528 metric tons 2,297 metric tons
2,322 1,013 1,821 60,644 69,173 4,649,048 38,777 metric tons metric tons kilograms kilograms kilograms metric tons, 63.2% Fe metric tons, 46.3% Mn

Most of the gold and silver and all the molybdenum produced during 1959 were by-products of copperores. A full review of the literature on Chileanore deposits is not within the scopeof this report. However, during preparationmany publishedand unpublished reportswere consulted; thosethat provedto be of mostaid are as

follows:general characteristics of Chilean ore deposits--Little(11), Domeyko (2, 3), Miller and Singewald (14), and Kuntz (9); copper--Flores(4) and

Ruiz (16); iron--Ruiz (17); gold--Flores(4) and Floresand Ruiz (7); cobalt--Hornkohl (8); tungsten--McAllister and Ruiz (12); silver--Flores (6) andWhitehead (20); mercury--McAllister, Flores,andRuiz (13); lead andzinc--Flores(5); andmanganese--Biese (1).
/V[ ETALLOGEN ETIC PROVINCES

The metallogenetic mapsof Chile (Figs. 1, 2) were prepared from an ore

deposit map (scale1: 1,000,000)on whichmostof the miningdistricts of Chilehad beenplotted. Areaswhichhad knownconcentrations of certain metals wereoutlined on thismapand thenweretransferred to a base(scale

METALLOGENETIC PROVINCES O cHILE, S.A.

93

1: 5,000,000)for the present report. Deposits of iron, copper, silver,manganese,and leadand zinc were readilyadaptable to this type of treatment. On the otherhand,gold,generally foundin recoverable quantities in mostcopper ores,did not lend itself to sucha simplerepresentation; insteadit was necessaryto delimitthe goldprovinces as thoseareascontaining minesthat were workedprimarily or exclusively for gold. Mercury, cobalt,tungsten, and molybdenum, not shownon the metallogenetic maps,havecomefrom isolated miningdistrictsor are by-products of copper ores.

FIG. 1. Metallogeneticprovincesof northern Chile.

The most extensive metallogenetic provincein Chile is that of copper,


which extends from Peril southward to about the southern border of the

province of Linares(Fig. 1). Figure3 shows linesalong whichcertain types of copper deposits are particularly abundant. In this province copper mines
and prospects numberin the thousands, and coppermineralsare found in nearly all other metalliferous deposits. The porphyry-copper deposits rank amongthe world's largestof all types. Only a few copperdeposits exist in otherpartsof Chile; a few smalldeposits havebeenfoundin the eastern part of the province of Aysenand in the extremesouthern part of the continent, and on the neighboring islandsof the provinceof Magallanes. Iron ore, whichrankssecond to copperore in terms of tonnage and value of production, is for the mostpart restricted to three regions(Fig. 1). The first is a narrow belt, comprising severaltens of relativelysmall high-grade deposits, along the coastextendingfrom near Ovalle northward to near the

94

CARLOS RUIZ F. AND GEORGE E. ERICKSEN

southern borderof the provinceof Antofagasta. The second, in the eastern part of the provinceof Antofagastanear the Argentine border, has recently discovered deposits that may have very large reserves of high-gradeiron ore. The third, in the province of Arauco,may havemoderately large reserves of a low-grade,itabirite type of ore. Itabirites have alsobeenreportedas occurring in the province of Valparaiso. All iron ore now beingproduced in Chile comesfrom the first of the aboveregions.
72 72

ARGENTINA
LLANQUIHUE

METAL LOG[NETIC PROVINCES

'[ Copper ] LeodZincCopper ] Mongonl$1

72
I00

76
0
1

72
200

68

I00
I

300
I

Kilometers

Fro. 2.

Metallogenetic provinces of southern Chile.

Gold deposits are mostlyin a belt extendingfrom the provinceof Maule northward into the provinceof Antofagasta(Fig. 1) and near the western border of the copperprovince. Gold placer deposits are found in this same regionas well as many otherplaces in Chile. Inasmuchas the presentreport is concerned mainlywith primaryores,the gold placerdeposits are not shown on the metallogenetic mapsand theyare not described. Silver deposits, whichaccounted for a moderately largeproduction of highgrade ores during the last centuryand the early part of the presentcentury, are foundin the followingareas:near Iquique (provinceof Tarapack); northeastof Antofagasta; northeast of Copiap6(Atacama); andin a belt extending

METALLOGENETIC PROVINCES OF CHILE, S. .4.

95

from nearCopiap6 to La Serena(Coquimbo)(Fig. 1). In addition, a few copper deposits and mostof the leadand zincdeposits of Chilecontain silver thatis recoverable asa by-product.

Manganese, which hasbeen produced in moderate quantity, hascome principallyfrom minesin a belt extending from near Vallenar (Atacama)to Ovalle (Coquimbo)(Fig. 1). Manganese is also found in a numberof deposits in the southern provinces of Cautinand Valdivia (Fig. 2) and in scattered deposits in northern Chile,these deposits are few in number and are of littleor no economic importance; nearly all the present dayproduction is
from a regionnear La Serena.

200

300 K,...,,.

Fro.

3.

Map of northern Chile showinglines along which certain types of copperdeposits are most abundant.

Themetals thathave hada small andintermittent production arelead, zinc, cobalt, mercury, tungsten, andmolybdenum. Onlythelead-zinc provinces are shown onthemetallogenetic maps; inasmuch as thecopper deposits in these areas areof equal or moreimportance thanthe lead-zinc deposits, the provinces are shown as lead-zinc-copper (Figs. 1, 2). Lead-zinc deposits are found principally in twoplaces in northern Chile, onein theeastern partof Tarapac andnortheastern Antofagasta andtheother in theeastern partof Coquimbo, andin southern Chile,in the eastern part of Aysen. Cobalt has been recovered fromseveral deposits distributed through theareaextending fromabout thelatitude of thecityof Rancagua (O'Higgins) to nearCopiap6. Mercury mines arein twoareas, one near Ovalle andtheother nearCopiap6.

{)6

C.dRLOS RU.tZP..4ND OEORGE E. BRICKSEAt

A few smalltunstendeposits occurin the regionof Vallenar and Salamanca (Coquimbo)and in Tarapacitand Aysen. Molybdenum is associated with certain of the copper deposits andis alsofoundin smallveinsconsisting chiefly of quartz and molybdenite, scattered throughout the lengthof Chile.
GEOLOGY OF THE HOST ROCKS

The hostrockso the ore deposits of the northernhalf of Chileare volcanic,

sedimentary, contact-metamorphic, and plutonicrocks. Most deposits are foundin andesitic volcanic rocks, including lavas, tuffs,andtuffaceous breccias, in sedimentary rocks,includinglimestones and sandstones, and in plutonic
rocks. The host rocks are principally of Jurassicand Cretaceous age and onlya few deposits are in younger or olderrocks. In southern Chilemostof

the deposits are foundin regionally metamorphosed rocks,for the mostpart schists, phyllites, and marbles o Precambrian (?) age. Most of the ore deposits are s13acially relatedto granite,granodiorite, or dioriteplutonicrocks. Regionalgeologic studies and lead-alpha datingof the plutonicrockso Chile (18) indicatethat mostof theserockswere emplaced duringthreeperiods, onenear the end of the Paleozoic, a second near the end
of theJurassic, and the third duringLate Cretaceous time. Most of the metallif-

erousdeposits of Chileappearto be genetically relatedto plutonic rocksof Cretaceous age,some maybe related to plutonic rocksof Jurassic age,but so
far as is knownnoneare relatedto earlier plutonicrocks. The Mesozoicrocks of Chile are characterized by north-trendingstructures, includingfolds, faults, and elongateplutonicmasses, that were the principalregionalcontrolsof mineralization. Folds tend to be broad open structures in whichthe stratifiedrocksdip at anglesof lessthan 45. Faults havea wide rangein lengths and amounts of displacements; the largestfaults are severalhundredkilometersin length and have displacements of several hundredsor thousands of meters. Plutonic masses range in size from those

havingan outcrop areaof onlya few square kilometers to those that cropout
over areasof manythousands of squarekilometers. The veins of individual depositsare generally localizedalong steeply dippingfaults that have strikescorresponding to one, two, or three systems. A large numberof the major veinsin Chile trend near north, a smallernumber trend N 45-70 E, and relativelyfew trend westor westnorthwest.
MINERALOGY AND PARAGENESIS

The accompanying paragenetic diagram (Fig. 4) shows mostof the hypogeneminerals foundin the oredeposits of Chileandthetypesof deposits, listed in order of decreasing temperature of formation,that canbe distinguished. In the diagramthe heightof the blocksis indicativeof the relativeabundance of minerals in each type of deposit. The representation of the paragenetic sequence is a compromise that fits the knownparagenesis of manyore deposits. However, the sequence doesnot fit all the known deposits. The picture is generally more complicated than illustrated, for many of the mineralswere

METALLOGENETIC PROVINCES OF CHILE, S. ,4.

97

Apatlte
Iron ore

m
m _

--I
-m___

I'Chalcopyrite
, Aclinolite t,Magnelile
Garnet

mm_

ChalcopyrJle

Scheelite Tourmaline

6 Chalcopyrite
60 GoIcl Tourmaline

mm
mmm

7 Porphyry
Copper

8 Specularlie
8a Gold
Speculmite

Chalcopyrile

9 Pyfite
Gokl

GholcopyrUe

9aPydte

I0 Pyrrhotite
tl Galena
Spholerile

Chalcopyrile

. _
m
mm

_
m
._

_
m ,m ._

[2 BOr-lte
I Silver

Chnlcopyrile

14 Mercury

FiG.4. Paragenetic diagram showing types of deposits andprimary minerals.

deposited duringtwo or morephases or were deposited jointly with other minerals.Pyrite,for example, formed in some veins during several phases thatranged fromearliest to latest. However, pyritegenerally is theearliest oi
the sulfide minerals. Quartz,themostabundant gangne mineral, is not shown

because it apparently formed at anyandall times andtemperatures. Calcite is alsoan abundant mineral in manydeposits but. is not shown in the paragenetic diagram for the samereason, although in contrast to quartz,calcite generally didnotformduring theearliest partof theparagenetic sequence. The mostabundant and widespread metallichypogene minerals foundin Chileanore deposits are pyrite, chalcopyrite, magnetite, and hematite(including specularite).The iron oresconsist mainlyof medium to coarsely crystalline magnetite andlesser amounts of hematite. Chalcopyrite is themost abundant copper mineral of copper deposits andfurthermore occurs in varying quantities in nearly all metalliferous deposits. Recoverable gold is almost entirelyin the nativestate. Pyrite is foundin varyingquantifies in almost
all deposits.

Oxidizedcopper minerals are widespread and in great variety; among those that are the mostimportant constituents of oresare cuprite, malachite, atacamite, chrysocolla, brochantite, and antlerite. The abundant supergene
copper sulfide ores consistmainly of chalcocite and to a lesserextent of
covellite.

98

CARLOS RUIZ F. AND GEORGE E. ERICKSEN

Mostof theotherminerals shown ontheparagenetic diagram areless widespread and tendto be restricted to certain typesof deposits.Lead-zinc depositscontaingalenaand sphalerite in more or less equalquantities and subordinate to minoramounts of chalcopyrite. As a general rule the galena is argentiferous. Cobaltdeposits have cobaltite, cobaltiferous arsenopyrite (danaite), and 1611ingite as the principal cobalt-bearing minerals. Silver
deposits have a wide variety of silver-bearing minerals,but the most abun-

dant are argentiferous galena and tetrahedrite, argentite,proustite,and


pyrargyrite. Mercury mineralsare principallycinnabarand mercurialtetrahedrite. The only tungsten mineralsthat occurin commercial quantities are scheelite and wolframite. The most abundantmanganese mineralsare braunite, pyrolusite, and psilomelane.
TYPES OF DEPOSITS

The fourteentypes and three sub-types of deposits shownon the parageneticdiagram (Fig. 4) and the manganese deposits represent the dominant ore typesthat canbe recognized at present. A few othertypescanbe recognized but are not discussed here because they are represented only by rare or anomalous deposits.

In the following discussion the deposits are grouped according to the principal exploitable metals. For purposeof reference, examples of mines or miningdistricts are givenfor eachtype of deposit. Of these, only the porphyrycopper deposits are shown on the accompanying maps.

Iron deposits of threedistincttypescanbe recognized in Chile; thosein the provinces of Coquimbo and Atacamarepresent a dense, hard iron ore; the Laco deposits in the Andeanregionin the eastern part of the province of Antofagasta containvuggy to cavernous ores; and thosein the provinces of Valparaisoand Araucoare itabirites. Individualdeposits in the region between OvalleandTaltal havereserves rangingfrom about 500,000 M.T. to approximately 15,000,000M.T. In addition,eachof the three largestdeposits, Algarrobo,El Tofo, and Romeral,
have or have had reserves rangingfrom about30,000,000to 100,000,000M.T.

Recentmagnetometer surveysof the region betweenCopiap6and Vallenar indicate the presence of unexposed magnetite deposits that may be as largeor largerthan any of thesethreedeposits. The deposits consist of hard oresof magnetite andlesser amounts of hematite whichis mostlyof secondary origin. Selective miningproduces a shipping ore havingan iron content of morethan

60 percent.Theprincipal contaminating elements areA1,Si,Mn, P, S,andCu. Apatitedeposits, foundin the same region, represent a special typeof iron deposit whichis high enough in apatite(21-33% P_Os) to makefeasible exploitation for phosphate ratherthanfor iron. The Lacodeposits are apparently unique in that theyare the onlyknown metalliferous deposits of magmatic origin andalso theonlyprimary(magmatic

MET./ILLOGENETIC PROFINCES OF CHILE, S. ./1.

99

or hypogene)deposits occurring in rocksyoungerthan Late Cretaceous age. The hostrocksare daciteand rhyolitetuffs considered to be of Late Tertiary or Quaternaryage. The ores, occurringin four deposits within an area of onlya few square kilometers, consist of high-grade (about65% Fe), hard and soft, and porousto cavernous magnetite-hematite that have many structural featuresindicativeof near-surface intrusions or flows. Cavitiesrangingfrom lessthan a centimeter to nearlya meter in longest dimension, are circularto

lent. icularandirregular in shape andare linedor partlyfilledwith octahedral crystals of martiteor magnetite, or morerarely,hexagonal crystals of hematite.
Crystalsin the larger cavities are as muchas five centimeters in diameter. At

places the surfaces of the deposits are marked by irregularto elongate, cavernous,blister-like masses of iron ore,that appear to haveformed by extrusion of
a plasticmaterial.

Park (15) brieflydescribed theLacooresandnoted thepresence of crystallinedtubesthat he interpreted to be gas escape tubes,and surface structures that he notedwere similarto aa and pahoehoe lavas. He further concluded that the ore solidified from a magmahighlycharged with gasand consisting almostentirelyof iron oxides, that was probably intrudedat shallowdepths and at places brokethroughto the surfaceto form flows. Our limited observations confirm the magmatic originof the deposits but it seems moreprobable that eachof the four deposits represents an intrusion that may havebroken throughto the surfacebut that the actualsurfaceflow from thesecenterswas
insignificant.

The iron ore of Arauco (Fig. 1) occurs in a sequence, about20 m thick, consisting of oneto three-meter layersof itabiriteseparated by nearlybarren layersof schist or quartziteof comparable thickness. The sequence is within andparallelto foliationof micaschist. The itabiriteis finelybanded and consistsprincipallyof magnetite partly alteredto hematite,and quartz. Highest gradeore ranges from 30 to 40% Fe.
Copper

The following types of hypogene copper deposits arerecognized: chalcopyrite-actinolite-magnetite, chalcopyrite-garnet, chalcopyrite-tourmaline, porphyry-copper, chalcopyrite-specularite, chalcopyrite-pyrite, chalcopyrite-pyrrhotite,and bornite-chalcopyrite.

The chalcopyrite-actinolite-magnetite deposits aremoderately widespread;


chieflyin a belt near the coast,extending from near La Serenato aboutthe latitude of Chuquicamata (Fig. 3). Many contain cobalt minerals anda large

part of the cobalt produced in Chilecamefrom deposits of this type. The deposits are typically fissure-filling and replacement veinsalongfractures that trendN 45 E to east,thuscuttingacross the structural grainof the Andes.
The veins are generally within but near the borders of intrusive rocks that

range fromdiorite to granodiorite; a fewveins arein thecontact-metamorphic rocks bordering the;intrusions. Manyareassociated with diabase dikes. The veinsare as muchas 3 km in length,and valuesextendto depths of 500 to 700 m. Mineson veinsof this typein general are the deepest in Chile,and

100

CARLOS RUIZ

F. AND GEORGE E. ERICKSEN

were of primary importance in the latter half of the last centurywhen Chile wasthe world'smajor producer of copper. The principaldeposits are in the districtsof La Higuera (Coquimbo); Carrizal Alto, Quebradita-Labrar, and Las Animas (Atacama); and Gaticoand Tocopilla(Antofagasta). Deposits of chalcopyrite-garnet are foundin contact-metamorphosed limestonenear diorite or granodiorite intrusives. The copperoresoccurin the form of replacement bodies, including low-dipping mantos and irregular masses, in whichthe sulfideminerals occuras pods,blebs,veinlets, and disseminated grains. In general,the deposits rangefrom small to mediumin size. The principalminingdistricts are Pintadas(Atacama), Panulcillo and San Antonio (Coquimbo), and Los Maquis (Aconcagua). Chalcopyrite-tourmaline and gold-tourmalinedepositsare two related types; the first contain abundantchalcopyrite,and the secondcontainsless chalcopyrite and moderately abundantgold. The deposits are typicallylenticularto circularbreccia pipes, withingranodiorite plutonic masses, that range from a few meters to about100m in longest dimension and extendto depths of as much as 200 m. Quartz and coarselycrystallinetourmalinecementand partly replacewall rock brecciafragments. Chacopyrite and other sulfide minerals fill fractures and cavities within the quartz and tourmaline and replace minerals in the breccia fragments. The goldgenerally occurs as blebs in the chalcopyrite.As a general rule,the highest gradegoldandcopper ores are found in zoneswhere the host rock has been most intenselysericitized. Characteristic chalcopyrite-tourmaline deposits are San Pedro de Cachiyuyo, Cabezade Vaca, E10rito, and Llamuco (Atacama); the mine E1 Chivato (Talca) is the typicalgold-tourmaline deposit. The porphyry-copper deposits are characterized by small stock-like intrusionsof porphyriticrock of a composition near that of granodiorite,and the ores occurin theseintrusionsor in surroundingrock, principallyandesitic lavas, tuffs, and tuffaceous breccias. At least part of the porphyry-copper deposits have pipe-like brecciabodies. The host rocks are hydrothermally alteredto a light-grayor white rockthat contains muchsericite and kaolinand varying amountsof secondary quartz. The typical depositis cappedby a leached zonerangingfrom a few metersto morethan 100m in thickness, under which is an enriched zone containingabundant oxidized minerals such as antlerite, brochantite,and atacamite,and many other oxidized minerals of

copper and iron in lesser to minorquantity. Belowthe oxidized zoneis a supergene sulfide zonethat contains secondary chalcocite in association with primarychalcopyrite and pyrite. This zonegrades downward into protore containing chalcopyrite and pyrite. The total thickness of oxidizedore and
enriched sulfide ore is generally morethan 100 m. Copperminerals are disseminated through the host rock, for the most part as veinlets,blebs,and grainsin zones that havebeenintensely fractured.

The porphyry-copper deposits are relatedto the chalcopyrite-tourmaline deposits in thattheyrepresent hypogene mineralization, including chalcopyrite
andtourmaline, of an intensely fracturedand alteredigneous rock. However,

theporphyry-copper deposits contain tourmaline as a minorconstituent, and the copper content is lowerthanin the chalcopyrite-tourmaline breccia pipes.

METALLOGENETIC PROVINCES OF CHILE, S. .4.

101

The deposits now being exploitedin Chile are very large; probabletotal reserves are in excess of 3,000 million tons of ore, rangingfrom 1.3 to 1.9 percent copper. They are foundalongthe western front of the Andes,at altitudesbetween 2,000 and 4,000 m, from E1 Tenientein the southto Chuquicamata in the north (Fig. 1). Furthermore,deposits of the porphyry-copper type are found even farther northward in Chile and in southernPeril. The deposits in Chilethat havebeenworkedon a large scale are Chuquicamata, E1 Salvador,Potrerillos, and E1 Teniente. Figure 3 .shows the axis alongwhich mostof the porphyrycopper and chalcopyrite-tourmaline deposits are located. Chalcopyrite-specularite and gold-specularite deposits are related types foundmanyplacesin Chile. The gold-specularite deposits differ from the chalcopyrite-specularite deposits mainlyin havinga highergoldcontent, rela.tively little copper, andby the presence of minerals suchas galena and tetrahedritethat were deposited late in the paragenetic sequence.Someof the
deposits alsocontainmagnetiteand otherscontaincalcite,which, in contrastto the condition in mostdeposits, wasthe earliestmineralto be formed. Most of the deposits are veins localizedalong relativelylarge north-trending faults. The host rock is granodioriteor andesite. Examplesof the chalcopyrite-

specularite deposits aretheCerro Negro andManto Verde mines of theE1


Saladodistrict, San Franciscoand Trfinsito mines of the Ojancos district, and

the Castillamine (Atacama); and La Africanamine (Santiago). The principalmines of thegold-specularite typeare foundin the districts of Los Mantos de Punitaquiand Canelillo (Coquimbo). Figure 3 showsthe axis along whicha numberof the chalcopyrite-specularite minesare located. The chalcopyrite-pyrite and gold-pyrite deposits are relatedtypesthat are numerous and widespread in northernChile. The gold-pyritedeposits are the mostnumerous of all the gold deposits; they differ from the chalcopyritepyritedeposits principally in having relatively highgoldandlow copper values. Bothtypes of deposits generally occurasnarrowfissure-filling veinsconsisting principallyof quartz,pyrite, and chalcopyrite, localized alongfaults of small horizontaland vertical extent; gold-pyritereplacement deposits representan exceptional type foundin the Andacollo regionof Coquimbo. Primary ore is generally low-grade, and at mostdeposits exploitable oresoccuronly in the oxideand supergene sulfide zones. Importantdeposits of the gold-pyrite type are in the district of Andacolloand Las Vacas and Jolie mines in Coquimbo, and E1 Bronce de Petorcamine in Aconcagua. Examplesof chalcopyrite-

pyritedeposits areGalleguillos, Checo de Cobre, andCerroBlanco (Atacama)


and Delirio Punitaqui (Coquimbo). Chalcopyrite-pyrrhotite depositsare relatively scarce; the best known examples are thosein southern Chile,particularly in the regionof Lago General Carrera. Depositsare represented by well definedfissure-filling veins

andby irregular to lenticular or tabularreplacement bodies. The oresconsist principally of dense, fine-grained pyrrhotiteand chalcopyrite; pyrite is abundant in somedeposits. A typical depositis the Las Chivas mine at Lago
General Carrera in Aysen. Bornite-chalcopyrite deposits are small to mediumin size and are found

principallyin the provinces of Aconcagua and Antofagasta(Fig. 3).

The

102

CARLOS RUIZ F. AND GEORGE E. ERICKSEN

ores consistof finely disseminated bornite and varying but generallylesser amounts of chalcopyrite; part of the ores,particularly thosefrom minesin Antofagasta, containprimary chalcocite as an abundantore mineral. The coppermineralsfill cavitiesin favorablebedssuchas amygdaloidal andesite flows,tuffs, and tuffaceous breccias, or partly replace theserocksand limestone. Fissurefilling veinsor impregnations of fault brecciazonesare relativelyscarce. Typicaldeposits are E1 Soldado andLa Patagua in Aconcagua, Teresita and Frankensteinin Atacama,and Portezueloand Santo Domingoin Antofagasta.
Cobalt

Cobaltdeposits, exploitedsinceaboutthe middleof the last centuryuntil the 1940's, include fissurefilling veins and mantos in which cobalt minerals were deposited by impregnation and replacement. There are two types of deposits, thosein which cobaltite is the principalor only recoverable metallic mineraland thosehavingcobaltminerals, generallycobaltiferous arsenopyrite

and 161Iingite, in recoverable amounts associated with copper oressuchas the chalcopyrite-actinolite-magnetite and chalcopyrite-specularite types. In addition,cobalt minerals occurin nearlyall of the silverminesof northernChile but in suchsmall quantityas to have no economic importance. Important deposits of cobaltite occur at El Buitre and Minillasminesin Coquimbo andin the SanJuanminingdistrict in Atacama. Cobaltiferous copper deposits of the chalcopyrite-actinolite-magnetite typeare in the district of CarrizalAlto (Atacama). The Merceditamine (Santiago) is an example of the cobaltiferous chalcopyrite-specularite type deposit.
Tungsten

Small amountsof tungstenore have been producedfrom mines in the regionsof Vallenar and Salamanca. Only a few deposits are found outside theseregions. Scheelite, the only importanttungsten mineral,occurs as disseminations in granitic rock, generallyalong joints and small faults, aplite dikes, or tourmalinizedbrecciazones. Ore bodiesare small, generallyonly a few metersin length; the largestbodiesare irregular in shapeand have a
maximum dimension of 20 to 30 m. The Llamuco mine near Salamanca is a

typical scheelite deposit.

Recentlydeposits containing wolframitehave been discovered in the province of Aysenbut the quantity andgradeof oresis not known.
Gold

Gold deposits, next to copperdeposits, are the most numerousand widespread in Chilebut whereas the total goldproduction is moderately large,the amountproduced by any one deposit has beenrelativelysmall. Most of the goldhascome from oxidizedzones of fissure-filling veins,from placerdeposits or hasbeena by-product of other ores,suchas copperand silver. The three principaltypesof gold deposits, gold-tourmaline, gold specularite, and gold pyrite,are similarto certain copper deposits andhavealready beendescribed.

METALLOGENETIC PROVINCES OF CHILE, S. A.

103

Molybdenum

Molybdenite, in the form of disseminations andveinlets, occurs in recoverable amountsin most if not all the porphyry-copper deposits of Chile. Furthermore, part of the chalcopyrite-actinolite-magnetite deposits and tungstendeposits contain smallamounts of molybdenite and in a few regions, particularlyin Aysen,small,fissure-filling veinsof molybdenite and quartzoccur withinlargegranodiorite or dioriteplutonic masses. Practically all molybdenum production has comefrom the porphyry-copper ores.
Lead-zinc

The lead-zincdeposits of Chile are relativelysmalland few in number; production of lead-zinc ore hasbeencorrespondingly small. Deposits include impregnations of stratified rocks such as volcanictuff (mina Galena, Coquimbo), lenticularto irregularlyshaped bodiesin limestone (mina Silva, Aysen), and as fissure-filling veins (Jauja mine,Tarapac/, and Guadalmine, Aysen),Galena and sphalerite are the onlyimportant hypogene leadand zinc minerals;at someminessecondary ores have been exploitedfor cerussite. Someminescontainrecoverable amounts of chalcopyrite whereasothersare nearlybarren of copper minerals. Nearlyall thelead-zinc orescontain silver, generally in quantities on the orderof several hundred grams per metricton,
as well as a few gramsof gold.
Silver

The silver deposits are alongfault or shearzones,or alongfavorablehorizons in stratifiedrockswhere silver and associated mineralsfill open spaces and partly replacethe hostrock. The mostfavorablerock type is limestone, but somedeposits are in tuff, tuffaceous breccia, intrusiveandesitic porphyry, and conglomerate.Deposits are of two general mineralogical types, one havingargentiteand argentiferous galenaand tetrahedrite, and the other with

the rubysilverminerals proustite andpyrargyrite predominating. Generally the highest-grade ore is found in the oxidizedand enriched portionsof the veins,which containa wide variety of silver minerals. In someminessecondaryoreswere foundat depths of morethan400 m. The mostimportant mining districtsare Huantajayaand Santa Rosa in Tarapac/t,Caracoles in
Antofagasta, and Chafiarcillo and Tres Puntasin Atacama.
Mercury

Chile hashad a smalland intermittentproducti6n of mercurythat started duringthe latterpart of the 18thcentury and hascontinued until the present. The mercuryoccurs in fissure-filling veinsof limited horizontaland vertical
extent and generallylessthan a meter in width. Within the veins,the distributionof the mercuryminerals is sporadic and ore shoots are relativelysmall. The principal mercuryminesare in the Punitaquidistrict,Coquimbo.

t04

CARLOS RUIZ F. AND GEORGEE. ERICKSEN

Manganese

Four types of manganese deposits can be recognized, mantosassociated with tuffaceous sandstones of Cretaceous age,mantos associated with quartzite layersin micaschists of Precambrian (?) age,lacustrine deposits of Pliocene or Quaternary age,and vein deposits. The largest andmostproductive manganese deposits arethose of Coquimbo, whichconsist of low-dipping mantos of sedimentary manganese ore in a unit of continental sediments, principally tuffaceous sandstones but alsohavinglayers of tuffaceous breccias and limestones, within a thick sequence of volcanic rocks of Lower Cretaceous age. The depositsgenerallycomprisetwo to four mantos, whichtogether with interstratified sandstone makeup a stratigraphic unit rangingfrom about 3 to 20 m in thickness. The mantosare variablein thickness, ranging from as little as a few centimeters to as much as three
meters; however,most are between50 cm and a meter in thickness. The most

abundantmanganese mineralsare braunite,pyrolusite,and psilomelane.

The manganese deposits of theprovince of Valdiviahaveonlyrecently been discovered and little is knownof their extentor economic possibilities. Man-

ganese oxide, mainly pyrolusite, occurs asdisseminations, filmson joints,pods, andirregular to lenticular masses generally less than5 m in longest dimension, in 1-to-2-mquartzite layerswithin a sequence of Precambrian schist. One deposit contains rhodonite and it is evident that the manganese oxidehereas wellasat theotherdeposits formed asthe result of oxidation of thismineral. Lacustrine deposits of manganese are foundat high altitudes, near the border of Peril. The manganese, occurring chiefly as pyrolusite, is in layers
associated with semi-consolidated tuffaceous sandstones and siltstones; one

deposit consists of narrowlayers, generally less than5 cmthick,of manganese oxidein a deposit of kieselguhr.At leastone of the deposits shows welldefined slump structure developed during theperiod of deposition. Manganese deposits of theveintypearefound at several places in northern Chile,including theareas described above. Thesedeposits are smallgenerally consisting of irregularmasses onlya few meters longand lessthana meter wide, localizedalong fault zones. Pyrolusiteis the principalmanganese
mineral.
CLASSIFICATION AND GENESIS

The metalliferous deposits of Chile can be dividedinto four classes as hydrothermal, contact-metasomatic, magmatic, andsedimentary.The deposits of copper, gold,and silverare hydrothermal. Most of the iron ore deposits are contact-metasomatic and most of the manganese deposits are of sedimentaryorigin. The closeassociation of hydrothermal deposits with the igneous intrusive rocksis indicative of a genetic relationship. It is probable that these intrusive
rocks were the sourceof the mineralizing solutionsthat were releasedafter

emplacement of the intrusive body,and whenupperportions of the intrusives had become solidenough to deformby fracturing. Most of the hydrothermal deposits are in the form of well-defined, steeply dippingfissure-filling veins

METALLOGENETIC PROVINCES OF CHILE, S. ./1.

105

and tabularto irregularlyshaped replacement bodies in whichhypogene mineralswere deposited by cavityfilling or replacement.The metallicminerals
of the deposits rangefrom solidmasses to fine disseminations. The hydrothermal deposits probably formedunderconditions rangingfrom high to low temperature and pressure,or, according to the Lindgren (10) classification, they rangefrom hypothermal to epithermal. In a generalway, deposits canbe classified as follows:silver and mercurydeposits are epithermal; lead-zincdeposits are in the rangebetween mesothermal and epithermal; copperand gold deposits are mostlymesothermal, but someare hypothermal; tungsten and molybdenum deposits are hypothermal. The contact-metasomatic iron ore deposits of the regionbetween La Serena and Taltal are irregularlyshaped, lenticularand tabularbodies that generally occurin metamorphic rocksnear or at the contacts with dioriteor granodiorite

plutons. The iron oxides wereemplaced largelyby replacement.The newly discovered deposits near the Argentinebordereast of Antofagasta probably
solidified, as intrusions and flows,from a magmathat consisted almostentirely of iron oxides andwhichwashighlycharged with gas. The itabiritedeposits in the provinces of Araucoand Valparaisoconsist of bandedoresin Precambrian (?) metamorphic rocks. They are probably of sedimentary origin. The lacustrine manganese deposits of northernmost Chile and the layered deposits of the province of Coquimbo are clearlyof sedimentary origin. The isolated manganese veins of northern Chileare of hypogene origin,but it is not knownwhetherthe manganese oxideswere the primary mineralsor whether theyformedasthe resultof oxidation of manganese carbonate or silicate. The manganese oxidesof the deposits in the province of Valdivia evidentlyformed by near surfaceoxidation of rhodonitewhich in turn may have formed by metamorphism of arenaceous manganese oxidedeposits of sedimentary origin.
SUM MARY

1. Deposits of copper, iron, gold, lead-zinc,silver,and manganese in Chile occur in certain well-definedregions that are designatedas metallogenetic provinces. Nearly all known depositsare in the northern half of Chile. Copper deposits are the most numerousand widespread of all metalliferous deposits;gold deposits rank secondto copperin abundance, and other deposits are fewer in number.

2. At least14 typesand3 sub-types of hypogene metalliferous deposits can


be distinguished on the basisof metal or mineralogical content.

3. Hypogene mineralsof most Chileanore deposits are few in number; mostabundant are the simplesulfides and oxidessuchas pyrite, chalcopyrite, magnetite, hematite,and quartz. 4. Metalliferousdeposits, suchas copper,gold, lead-zinc,etc., are hydrothermal;mostiron ore deposits are contact-metasomatic; and mostmanganese deposits are sedimentary. 5. Hydrothermal and contact-metasomatic deposits appear to be genetically related to Late Cretaceous plutonic rocksof granite-diorite composition; some may be relatedto intrusive rocksof Late Jurassic age.

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CARLOS RUIZ F. AND GEORGE E. ERICKSEN


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We are indebted to sefioritaSoniaMehechof the IIG for compiling much of the data used in preparationof the paragenetic diagram. The following personsread the manuscriptand made many valuablesuggestions: Kenneth
Segerstromand W. D. Carter, U.S. GeologicalSurvey, Prof. Hector Flores,

Universityof Chile,and Pierre St. Amand,ChinaLake Naval Ordnance Testing Station.


DIRECTOR, INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACIONES GEOL6GICAS, SANTIAGO, CHILE,
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY,SANTIAGO,CHILE,
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Aug. 24, 1961


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