Electron-microprobe analyses and mineragraphic studies of native gold demonstrate considerable variations in the primary intergrain and intragrain distribution of silver. The gold grains have from 1-55 weight percent silver; copper is present in grains from only one locality and ranges from 0.1-0.6 weight percent. Some gold grains have strong zoning of silver whereas others have no detectable zoning. Gold grains from some deposits show remarkable intergrain homogeneity of silver and/or copper content, but others exhibit extreme heterogeneity. We believe that the inhomogeneities and variations in silver content recognized and emphasized here are features of primary deposition. We also recognize low-silver rims with sharp boundaries bordering many of the grains examined but believe these are developed in a relatively oxidizing, low-temperature environment and are not primary lode features. Opaque mineral inclusions of primary origin in gold grains are common in some deposits, scarce in many, and virtually absent from others. These inclusions may be of value in characterizing some gold deposits. For the majority of gold crystals from Copper Basin, Arizona, the lowest silver content observed was in the central portion of each grain and the highest silver content was in the rim. This is believed to be due an increase in the proportion of silver to gold in solution during growth of the crystals. Analysis of sized fractions of 331 gold grains from Pennsylvania Mountain, Colorado, shows no systematic correlation of grain size with silver content. Electron microprobe step-scanning of gold from Alder Gulch, Montana, suggests more than one mineralization event took place. Pyrite and acanthite inclusions less than 0.05 mm in the largest dimension, are present in some grains from this deposit. Inclusions of pyrite, pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, and an isotropic Co-As-S mineral are present in the low-silver, copper-bearing gold from Ninemile Creek, Montana. The presence of copper and the low silver content in this gold is not typical of the gold-quartz-pyrite association which is common in the Western United States. ?? 1971 Springer-Verlag.
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Primary distribution of silver and copper in native gold from six deposits in the Western United States