The Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB) is recognized as having one of the major concentrations of volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits on Earth. Original resources of about 2000 Mt of massive sulfides have been reported in the province. Recent classifications have considered the IPB deposits as the bimodal siliciclastic subtype, although major differences can be recognized among them. The main ones concern the hosting rocks. To the north, volcanic and volcaniclastic depositional environments predominate, whereas to the south, black shale-hosted VMS prevail. The mineral composition is quite simple, with pyrite as the main mineral phase, and sphalerite, galena, and chalcopyrite as major components. A suite of minor minerals is also present, including arsenopyrite, tetrahedrite–tennantite, cobaltite, Sb–As–Bi sulfosalts, gold, and electrum. Common oxidized phases include magnetite, hematite, cassiterite, and barite. The spatial relationship between all these minerals provides a very rich textural framework. A careful textural analysis reported here leads to a general model for the genetic evolution of the IPB massive sulfides, including four main stages: (1) Sedimentary/diagenetic replacement process on hosting rocks; (2) sulfides recrystallization at rising temperature; (3) metal distillation and sulfides maturation related to late Sb-bearing hydrothermal fluids; and (4) metal remobilization associated with the Variscan tectonism. The proposed model can provide new tools for mineral exploration as well as for mining and metallurgy.
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