Dr. Francisco Gutiérrez, academic associate researcher at the AMTC and member of the research group on exploration and ore deposits modeling, was granted with finding for a research project framed into CONICYT’s “Projects supporting the creation of international networks between research centers”, international cooperation program, 2015 version.
The project “Quantifying the shallow magma reservoirs emplacement in the Andes: implications for the generation of large eruptions and ore deposits” focuses on igneous petrology and metallogeny, and it will be developed with Dr. Olivier Bachmann, from the Erath Sciences Department of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-Zurich, with cooperation from Dr. Diana Comte, principal researcher with the AMTC.
The researchers intend to evaluate, using numeric modelling, factors controlling magma emplacement in the upper crust, considering interaction with the host rock, which is deformed before and during emplacement, to evaluate emplacement factors that originate metallic deposits. Then they expect to obtain simulations supported by mineralogical, geochemical, magnetic and geochronologic data, considering some plutons of central Chile. The project has a budget of $13,600,000 (nearly US$19,430).
Dr. Gutiérrez gives more detail: “What makes a magma degasify or not, meaning it loses volatile gases, at the crust and therefore create metallic deposits? What we study is how these magmatic bodies (made of molten rock) are generated, how they are emplaced and how long they thermally survive. But what we are actually proposing here is that the emplacement mechanism, and life and existence of these reservoirs depend on several conditions: some of them are related to the magma and some others are relevant to the crust. I mean, generally the crust gives certain conditions for the magma to spread, to rise and to generate a volcano or a metallic ore deposit”.
He adds: “What we are hypothesizing is that the zones where the magma rises to a certain level in the upper crust and creates accumulations, are the places where metallic deposits are really created; while there are other places where magmas rise and are laterally emplaced, but although they are at the same pressure and depth, they don’t devolatilize (…) The project points towards knowledge of these molten rock reservoirs that are the origin of hydrothermal systems. Not necessarily the hydrothermal system evolution on itself, but the system that produces hydrothermal systems”.
The project will be developed with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-Zurich because of the great analytical capacity such center possesses, especially regarding high-resolution analysis. “They have experts and high-tech analytical techniques in thermal fluids, intrusions, structural geology, and we need to interact with them in order to learn and collaborate. But the greatest contribution they’ll make will be analytical in nature. We`re going to get there to learn things like the chemistry of the minerals, rock age, their chemistry, anisotropy, etc. This has to be done in high resolution labs”, Dr. Gutiérrez explains.