Resolving controversial issues concerning the processes of porphyry copper systems formation – an innovative approach

The three-year long project is funded by Bulgarian National Science Fund contract № КП-06-Н44/4. The project addresses some controversial fundamental questions on the general genesis of porphyry copper and epithermal gold deposits based by specifically designed studies at the two major producing Bulgarian mines: Elatsite porphyry copper and Chelopech epithermal gold deposits, as well as Svishti Plaz gold deposit. These three ore deposits seem to be ideal case study opportunities. The new results will allow to re-evaluate and/or refine the processes responsible for porphyry-copper and epithermal gold deposits formation and they will be considered in a context of the broader global porphyry copper (±Au-Mo-base metal) systems. Additionally, the data obtained about the concentration, distribution and the presence form of trace elements (some of them determined as critical materials) in different minerals will allow to evaluate the potential of the porphyry-copper systems as а source for critical elements in the future.

Motorized cathodoluminescence optical system CATHODYNE (delivered by NewTec Scientific) was acquired with the financial support of the project and partly by Geological Institute-BAS (LA-ICP-MS lab). The first in Bulgaria Cold-CL system was installed in the Laboratory for Microscopic Analysis at Geological Institute.

Optical Cathodoluminescence (Cold-CL) is an efficient method for visualizing microtextures in minerals, which cannot be observed using optical microscopy. The result is a colored image, where every color is due to the presence of a particular element activator in the mineral structure. In the last few years this technique is widely applied in Earth sciences, particularly in mineralogy, ore geology, geochronology and sedimentology.

Contact person: Dr. Elitsa Stefanova (

Period: 2020 - 2023