The western margin of the USA, covering approx 777 000 km2, is an agglomeration of tectonostratigraphic terrains accreted to the North American craton mainly during Mesozoic time. The terrains represent a number of fundamental crustal types: oceanic crust, island-arc crust, melange, various combinations of the preceding three, batholithic, miogeoclinal and platform. The distribution patterns of types of mineral deposits show that miogeoclinal terrains of the craton are characterized by replacement and vein-type Pb-Zn-Ag, skarn W deposits, Mo and Sn, whereas accreted terrains contain all the known volcanic massive sulphide deposits, all chromite and chert-associated Mn, and all the large Au quartz-vein deposits, except Goldfield, Nevada. Carlin-type disseminated fine-grained Au deposits occur mostly in windows of Palaeozoic miogeoclinal rocks in Nevada, but the only known fine-grained Au deposit in California is in very youthful volcanic rocks overlying oceanic-crust terrain. Large bedded-type baryte deposits, although in the same area and showing the same trend as disseminated Au in Nevada, are in allochthonous oceanic terrain. Hg and Sb are dominantly in accreted terrains, but Sb also forms important deposits in cratonal rocks. Most of the large Fe deposits are in the craton, but a few are in accreted island-arc terrains.-P.Br.
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Distribution of mineral deposits in accreted terranes and cratonal rocks of western United States.