Research Topic

Porphyry Systems: Magmatic-Hydrothermal Processes and Recent Development in Exploration Methods

About this Research Topic

Porphyry systems are a major source of copper and molybdenum, and also a significant source of gold and some critical metals essential to our society. They are formed at convergent margins in syn- and post-subduction settings in genetic association with magmatic rocks and host a variety of economic ore deposits – porphyry, skarn and epithermal mineralization. Porphyry systems are the result of the optimal alignment of magmatic and hydrothermal processes (physical and chemical) starting with melt generation in the mantle, magma evolution in the crust and exsolution of magmatic-hydrothermal fluids at shallow crustal levels which subsequently precipitate metals in the deep porphyry to the shallow epithermal environment to form economic ore bodies. Most of these magmatic and hydrothermal processes are well identified, however, their relative weight on the metal endowment and signature (e.g., Cu/Au; Cu/Mo ratios) of the resulting ore deposits remain elusive. The increasing demand of metals is a major factor for the recent development of new generation low-cost and high efficiency exploration tools applied to porphyry systems. New geochemical techniques, such as mineral vectoring, based on trace-element geochemistry, SWIR, VNIR and hyperspectral technologies have been actively developed over the last decade and successfully applied to mineral exploration of deeper porphyry systems.

Economic deposits in porphyry systems result from a sequence of magmatic and hydrothermal processes that occurred at different spatial (crustal scale tectonic processes vs metal precipitation in veins) and time scales (10s of Ka to several Ma). Efficient mineral exploration of well-endowed porphyry systems requires an accurate identification of this sequence, a deep understanding of the distinct processes and of their influence on the metal distribution in the system. Recent analytical and technological developments, new geological and experimental data and improved numerical models offer new perspectives for understanding of and exploration for porphyry systems.

This Research Topic aims to deepen our understanding of magmatic and hydrothermal processes leading to the formation of porphyry-centred deposits through a multivariate approach, including, but not limited to, rock geochemistry, mineral and fluid chemistry, geochronology, experimental petrology and modeling. In particular this Research Topic aims to increase our understanding of (1) how various processes affect the mineralizing potential of magmas in the mantle source region and during subsequent magma differentiation and degassing within the crust; (2) the hydrothermal processes controlling efficiency of metal transport, precipitation and the spatial distribution of metals at deposit scale, and (3) modern technologies used for mineral exploration in porphyry systems. Contributions are welcomed including field-based studies on magmatic-hydrothermal systems on various scales, as well as those reporting results of experimental studies, model calculations and exploration method development. Studies aiming to establish links between ore generating magmatic processes and geodynamic setting and/or specific tectonic processes are also strongly encouraged.


Keywords: porphyry deposits, copper, gold, molybdenum, critical metals


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Porphyry systems are a major source of copper and molybdenum, and also a significant source of gold and some critical metals essential to our society. They are formed at convergent margins in syn- and post-subduction settings in genetic association with magmatic rocks and host a variety of economic ore deposits – porphyry, skarn and epithermal mineralization. Porphyry systems are the result of the optimal alignment of magmatic and hydrothermal processes (physical and chemical) starting with melt generation in the mantle, magma evolution in the crust and exsolution of magmatic-hydrothermal fluids at shallow crustal levels which subsequently precipitate metals in the deep porphyry to the shallow epithermal environment to form economic ore bodies. Most of these magmatic and hydrothermal processes are well identified, however, their relative weight on the metal endowment and signature (e.g., Cu/Au; Cu/Mo ratios) of the resulting ore deposits remain elusive. The increasing demand of metals is a major factor for the recent development of new generation low-cost and high efficiency exploration tools applied to porphyry systems. New geochemical techniques, such as mineral vectoring, based on trace-element geochemistry, SWIR, VNIR and hyperspectral technologies have been actively developed over the last decade and successfully applied to mineral exploration of deeper porphyry systems.

Economic deposits in porphyry systems result from a sequence of magmatic and hydrothermal processes that occurred at different spatial (crustal scale tectonic processes vs metal precipitation in veins) and time scales (10s of Ka to several Ma). Efficient mineral exploration of well-endowed porphyry systems requires an accurate identification of this sequence, a deep understanding of the distinct processes and of their influence on the metal distribution in the system. Recent analytical and technological developments, new geological and experimental data and improved numerical models offer new perspectives for understanding of and exploration for porphyry systems.

This Research Topic aims to deepen our understanding of magmatic and hydrothermal processes leading to the formation of porphyry-centred deposits through a multivariate approach, including, but not limited to, rock geochemistry, mineral and fluid chemistry, geochronology, experimental petrology and modeling. In particular this Research Topic aims to increase our understanding of (1) how various processes affect the mineralizing potential of magmas in the mantle source region and during subsequent magma differentiation and degassing within the crust; (2) the hydrothermal processes controlling efficiency of metal transport, precipitation and the spatial distribution of metals at deposit scale, and (3) modern technologies used for mineral exploration in porphyry systems. Contributions are welcomed including field-based studies on magmatic-hydrothermal systems on various scales, as well as those reporting results of experimental studies, model calculations and exploration method development. Studies aiming to establish links between ore generating magmatic processes and geodynamic setting and/or specific tectonic processes are also strongly encouraged.


Keywords: porphyry deposits, copper, gold, molybdenum, critical metals


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

27 June 2021 Abstract
27 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

27 June 2021 Abstract
27 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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