Monday, August 25, 2014

Rhyolite Porphyry from Majuba Hill III

GSN field trip Day 2: We've taken a few Majuba Hill samples out of the bag.
We'll now take a look at the farthest right sample, having already seen
Rocks #1 & #2 and Rock #3.
One side shows a weathered surface, with dark brown iron oxides and the copper carbonates malachite and azurite.
I suspect that the reason I picked up this rock was because of the mineralized appearance of the outer surfaces. I probably had no idea this rock would turn out to be yet another sample of rhyolite porphyry when I grabbed it off the dump. Scratching the iron oxide reveals it to be goethite mixed with jarosite — according to the old Bear Creek porphyry copper exploration method matching oxide color to a complex triangle of powdered goethite, hematite, and jarosite with mixes in between. The only partial example I can find of this method online can be seen here.
A fresh surface of the same rock.
Zooming in on the fresh surface, we can see that we indeed have yet another sample of rhyolite porphyry: 
Although the former feldspar phenocrysts are nearly completely gone to black tourmaline needles with a scattering of brown iron oxides (goethite + jarosite) and greenish to blue-green copper minerals, the gray, fresh-looking quartz eyes are clearly recognizable.
What's really interesting about this rock is the white to gray matrix.
The matrix of this current hand sample is considerably more altered than that of our previous sample, Rock #3: The matrix is shot through with tiny tourmaline needles and finely disseminated sericite. Additionally, the tourmalinized feldspar sites within this rock contain only minor copper minerals when compared to the feldspar sites of Rock #3. I was a bit surprised at this lesser amount of copper after spying the obvious blues and greens of copper minerals on the weathered surfaces.

And here's another surface of the rock, one showing a moderate amount of reddish brown iron-oxide (hematite + jarosite), a pale bluish green copper mineral (or combo of minerals), and black tourmaline.
The iron oxides are very fine-grained and powdery, and from a few boxworky textures, I'd say that they at least in part replace former sulfides (probably copper sulfides judging by the color of the iron oxides). Quartz phenocrysts are visible in the light olive gray right hand side of the sample (these are easier to see in person with a hand lens than in this photo because of the shadows in the photo).

And that's the last of our rhyolite porphyry samples, at least of those that haven't been brecciated!

Rhyolite Porphyry from Majuba Hill I
Rhyolite Porphyry from Majuba Hill II
Rhyolite Porphyry from Majuba Hill III (this post)

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