By Dennis P. Cox and Ted G. Theodore

DESCRIPTION Chalcopyrite in calc-silicate contact metasomatic rocks (see fig. 57).

Figure 57. Cartoon cross section of Cu skarn deposit showing relationship between metamorphic zones, ore bodies, and igneous intrusion.

fig 57

GENERAL REFERENCES Einaudi and Burt (1982), Einaudi and others (1981).


Rock Types Tonalite to monzogranite intruding carbonate rocks or calcareous clastic rocks.

Textures Granitic texture, porphyry, granoblastic to hornfelsic in sedimentary rocks.

Age Range Mainly Mesozoic, but may be any age.

Depositional Environment Miogeosynclinal sequences intruded by felsic plutons.

Tectonic Setting(s) Continental margin late orogenic magmatism.

Associated Deposit Types Porphyry Cu, zinc skarn, polymetallic replacement, Fe skarn.


Mineralogy Chalcopyrite + pyrite hematite magnetite bornite pyrrhotite. Also molybdenite, bismuthinite, sphalerite, galena, cosalite, arsenopyrite, enargite, tennantite, loellingite, cobaltite, and tetrahedrite may be present. Au and Ag may be important products.

Texture/Structure Coarse granoblastic with interstitial sulfides. Bladed pyroxenes are common.

Alteration Diopside + andradite center; wollastonite + tremolite outer zone; marble peripheral zone. Igneous rocks may be altered to epidote + pyroxene + garnet (endoskarn). Retrograde alteration to actinolite, chlorite, and clays may be present.

Ore Controls Irregular or tabular ore bodies in carbonate rocks and calcareous rocks near igneous contacts or in xenoliths in igneous stocks. Breccia pipe, cutting skarn at Victoria, is host for ore. Associated igneous rocks are commonly barren.

Weathering Cu carbonates, silicates, Fe-rich gossan. Calc-silicate minerals in stream pebbles are a good guide to covered deposits.

Geochemical Signature Rock analyses may show Cu-Au-Ag-rich inner zones grading outward to Au-Ag zones with high Au:Ag ratio and outer Pb-Zn-Ag zone. Co-As-Sb-Bi may form anomalies in some skarn deposits. Magnetic anomalies.


Mason Valley, USNV (Harris and Einaudi, 1982)

Victoria, USNV (Atkinson and others, 1982)

Copper Canyon, USNV (Blake and others, 1979)

Carr Fork, USUT (Atkinson and Einaudi, 1978)