Geology of the Cerro Quema Au-Cu deposit (Azuero Peninsula, Panama)


  • I. CORRAL Departament de Geologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). 08193 Barcelona, Spain.
  • A. GRIERA Departament de Geologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). 08193 Barcelona, Spain.
  • D. GÓMEZ-GRAS Departament de Geologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). 08193 Barcelona, Spain.
  • M. CORBELLA Departament de Geologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). 08193 Barcelona, Spain.
  • À. CANALS I SABATÉ Facultat de Geologia, Universitat de Barcelona (UAB). 08028 Barcelona, Spain.
  • M. PINEDA FALCONETT Departamento de Geografía, Universidad de Panamá082304747, Chitré, Panamá.
  • E. CARDELLACH Departament de Geologia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). 08193 Barcelona, Spain.



Panama, Cerro Quema, Au-Cu High sulfidation epithermal deposit, Fore-arc basin, Arc-magmatism


The Cerro Quema district, located on the Azuero Peninsula, Panama, is part of a large regional hydrothermal system controlled by regional faults striking broadly E-W, developed within the Río Quema Formation. This formation is composed of volcanic, sedimentary and volcano-sedimentary rocks indicating a submarine depositional environment, corresponding to the fore-arc basin of a Cretaceous–Paleogene volcanic arc. The structures observed in the area and their tectono-stratigraphic relationship with the surrounding formations suggest a compressive and/or transpressive tectonic regime, at least during Late Cretaceous–Oligocene times. The igneous rocks of the Río Quema Formation plot within the calc-alkaline field with trace and rare earth element (REE) patterns of volcanic arc affinity. This volcanic arc developed on the Caribbean large igneous province during subduction of the Farallon Plate. Mineralization consists of disseminations of pyrite and enargite as well as a stockwork of pyrite and barite with minor sphalerite, galena and chalcopyrite, hosted by a subaqueous dacitic lava dome of the Río Quema Formation. Gold is present as submicroscopic grains and associated with pyrite as invisible gold. A hydrothermal alteration pattern with a core of advanced argillic alteration (vuggy silica with alunite, dickite, pyrite and enargite) and an outer zone of argillic alteration (kaolinite, smectite and illite) has been observed. Supergene oxidation overprinted the hydrothermal alteration resulting in a thick cap of residual silica and iron oxides. The ore minerals, the alteration pattern and the tectono-volcanic environment of Cerro Quema are consistent with a high sulfidation epithermal system developed in the Azuero peninsula during pre-Oligocene times


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