Crustal shortening and porphyry copper mineralization in the Laramide arc and superimposed extension: Introduction and themes

Eric Seedorff, Carson A. Richardson, Daniel A. Favorito, Mark D. Barton, Roy E. Greig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Laramide continental arc formed in southwestern North America at about the same time the Sierra Nevadan arc was shutting down, and the Laramide arc was active concurrent with the progress of the Laramide orogeny, from ca. 80 Ma to ca. 45 Ma. East-central Arizona offers an excellent opportunity to explore aspects of tectonics, structural geology, magmatism, and hydrothermal systems in a segment of the Laramide arc that is exceptionally well endowed with porphyry copper deposits. The structure of this region is especially complicated, with multiple generations of normal faults commonly superimposed on originally moderate-angle reverse faults with associated fault-propagation folds. A large new porphyry copper deposit, Resolution, was discovered near Superior in the mid-1990s. The discovery started a new round of development in the mining life cycle at the Resolution deposit; in the region, it contributed to copper exploration again becoming vigorous in the last decade. In the years since discovery of Resolution, important new scientific insights have been gained, including at the regional scale. Post-ore crustal extension exposed multiple levels of Laramide and older igneous and hydrothermal systems at the surface where they can be more easily mapped and sampled, and palinspastic reconstructions of post-mineral normal faulting permit the exposures to be restored to their original positions. The porphyry-related products that are observed at higher levels include local advanced argillic alteration and Cordilleran-style veins and associated mantos, such as at the Magma mine, Resolution deposit, and Old Dominion mine in the shallowest levels of the Superior- Globe-Miami area. Most porphyry copper ore bodies were developed at intermediate depths, where porphyry intrusions exhibit sericitic and potassic alteration and carbonate rocks were converted to skarn, such as in the heart of the Miami-Inspiration, Resolution, Ray, and Christmas deposits. Plutonic rocks are exposed at deeper paleodepths, where pegmatites, quartz veins, and greisen muscovite are locally observed, especially directly beneath porphyry copper orebodies, as in the Schultze and Granite Mountain plutons. Likewise, sodic-calcic alteration may be developed on the deep flanks of porphyry systems, such as adjacent to the Tea Cup pluton. Subsequent Cenozoic extension variously buried or exhumed the hypogene portions of these hydrothermal systems, leading to the development of various supergene products, both in situ and exotic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-336
Number of pages18
JournalGSA Field Guides
StatePublished - Sep 4 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Stratigraphy
  • Palaeontology


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