Salt precipitation in magmatic-hydrothermal systems associated with upper crustal plutons
Magmatic-hydrothermal systems associated with upper crustal plutons strongly influence volcanic and geothermal processes and form important mineral deposits. Fluids released from plutons are commonly saline and undergo phase separation into high-salinity brines and low-salinity vapors upon ascent. While brine-vapor immiscibility has been extensively studied, precipitation of solid salt during phase separation in magmatic-hydrothermal systems has generally been considered a rare phenomenon. Here we show that most porphyry deposits exhibit fluid inclusion evidence best interpreted by solid salt precipitation from ore-forming solutions. This interpretation naturally links thermodynamics, numerical simulations, and independent estimates of porphyry ore formation depths. Salt precipitation imposes major changes on the permeability of the system. Moreover, salt precipitation has implications for ore formation along the liquid-vapor-halite curve. The recognition of salt-saturated systems is challenging, but very relevant for understanding the evolution of magmatic-hydrothermal systems.